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Korea fears above "comfort women" row to attend Olympics

Korea fears above

"The Russian port of Nakhodka has become a transport hub for coal from North Korea", said a source of European intelligence, wishing to be anonymous for diplomatically sensitive information. (EPA/Song Kyung-Seok/Pool) Sarah Murray (center), head coach of the combined women's ice hockey team is seen as North Korean women's ice hockey players arrive at the South Korea's national training center on January 25 in Jincheon.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo enter Pacific Command headquarters in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018.

The reclusive regime announced their plans to construct a "five-star" hotel -boasting a "famous sandy beach" and shoreline- as the nation prepares to send its 250-person delegation into South Korea ahead of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

If such plans are finalized, it would mark the first direct South Korean flight to the North since former first lady Lee Hee-ho made a rare goodwill visit to Pyongyang in 2015, the official said.

"So, we'll continue to hold the line and provide credible military options so the diplomats can speak from a position of strength and persuasion", Mattis said.

North Korean officials on Saturday wrapped up a three-day visit to South Korea where they examined Olympic stadiums, hotels and concert halls that will potentially be used by North Korean athletes and other delegates headed to next month's Pyeongchang Winter Games.

The U.N. Security Council banned North Korean exports of coal last August under sanctions meant to cut off an important source of the foreign currency Pyongyang needs to fund its nuclear weapon and long-range missile program.

The talks for the Olympics, Mattis explained, do not address the overarching problems with North Korea.

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Concern that the North Korean security situation could deteriorate after next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea is likely behind Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to attend the opening ceremony despite tensions between Tokyo and Seoul over the scars of their shared past.

"Diplomacy should impose reason on Kim's reckless rhetoric and unsafe provocations", Mattis said.

"It's like what China had done before", the scholar said, referring to the meditation role that China had played during the previous six-party talks that failed to induce North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

The North has shown rapid progress toward its goal of developing a nuclear weapon that could reach the USA mainland.

North Korea has violated that zone "numerous times" and taken aggressive action over the years at sea and against civilian airliners, he said.

Nor were the images the first to make it into the public eye with US intelligence providing similar photographs to a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in September a year ago.

The United States has led efforts to toughen UN sanctions to force North Korea to give up development of nuclear missiles capable of hitting America.



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