WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- The United States said Thursday it is looking forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea's PyeongChang, after an envoy raised the possibility that it might skip the event.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said a day earlier that it's an "open question" whether American athletes will take part in the February games, given the security concerns stemming from North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
"We look forward to being a part of the Olympics in the Republic of Korea," Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, told a regular news briefing.
Her remark came shortly after White House press secretary Sarah Sanders made similar comments on Twitter.
"The U.S. looks forward to participating in the Winter Olympics in South Korea," she wrote. "The protection of Americans is our top priority and we are engaged with the South Koreans and other partner nations to secure the venues."
But in a separate press briefing earlier in the day, Sanders had fueled speculation the U.S. might sit out.
"No official decision has been made on that, and we'll keep you guys posted as those decisions are made," she said.
Nauert went further to praise South Korea for its "long history of successfully hosting many major games," including the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.
"We are confident that the government's commitment to hosting a safe and successful Winter Games will take place. We support their efforts in that," she added.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have risen further with North Korea's launch last week of a new intercontinental ballistic missile it claims is capable of striking all parts of the U.S.