Reuters

North Korea to send team to PyeongChang Games

North Korea to send team to PyeongChang Games
By Reuters

09/01/2018 at 09:17Updated 09/01/2018 at 10:27

North Korea said during rare talks with the South on Tuesday it will send a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea next month and Seoul said it was prepared to lift some sanctions temporarily to facilitate the visit if needed.

North Korea said during rare talks with the South on Tuesday it will send a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea next month and Seoul said it was prepared to lift some sanctions temporarily to facilitate the visit if needed.

North Korean officials at the first formal talks with South Korea in more than two years said their delegation for the Games would consist of athletes, high-ranking officials and a cheering squad.

The talks are being closely watched by world leaders eager for any sign of a reduction in tensions on the Korean peninsula amid rising fears over North Korea's missile launches and development of nuclear weapons in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

South Korea has unilaterally banned several North Korean officials from entering the country in response to Pyongyang's ramped-up missile and nuclear tests, conducted despite international pressure. However, some South Korean officials have said they see the Olympics as a possible opportunity for easing tensions. Foreign ministry spokesman Roh Kyu-deok said Seoul would consider whether it needed to take "prior steps", together with the U.N. Security Council and other relevant countries, to help the North Koreans visit for the Olympics.

At Tuesday's talks, the first since December 2015, Seoul proposed inter-Korean military discussions to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula and a reunion of family members in time for February's Lunar New Year holiday, South Korea's vice unification minister Chun Hae-sung said. South Korea also proposed that athletes from the two Koreas march together at the Games' opening ceremony and other joint activities between during the Winter Olympics, Chun told reporters outside the talks.

Athletes from the two Koreas have paraded together at the opening and closing ceremonies of major international games before, although it has not been seen since the 2007 Asian Winter Games in China after relations chilled under nearly a decade of conservative rule in the South. It would also be the first time since 2005 for the North to send its female cheerleaders, dubbed the "cheering squad of beauty" by South Korean media.

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