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North Korea to send team to 2018 Winter Olympic Games

By BBC
North Korea to send team to 2018 Winter Olympic Games

North Korea is to send a delegation to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games taking place in South Korea in February, officials from the South say.

The breakthrough announcement came as the countries met for their first high-level talks in more than two years.

The delegation will include athletes, officials, and supporters.

South Korea also proposed holding family reunions during the Winter Olympics for people separated by the Korean War.

What's happened at the talks? 

They have resumed after a break for lunch and the developments have been conveyed by officials from the South:

  • Vice unification minister Chun Hae-Sung told journalists: "The Northside proposed dispatching a high-level delegation, National Olympic Committee delegation, athletes, supporters, art performers, observers, a taekwondo demonstration team and journalists" to the Games
  • The South proposed that athletes from both Koreas march together at the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang as they did at the 2006 Winter Olympics
  • The South pushed for family reunions, a highly emotional issue for both countries, to take place during the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls in the middle of the Games
  • The South also proposed resuming negotiations over military issues and the North's nuclear programme
  • The South said it would consider temporarily lifting sanctions, in coordination with the UN, to facilitate the North's participation in the Olympics

The North's response to all of the South's proposals is not yet known. The opening remarks of head of the North Korean delegation, Ri Son-gwon, were fairly neutral.

He said he hoped the talks would bring a "good gift" for the new year and that the North had a "serious and sincere stance".

Where are the talks and how did they come about?

The talks began early on Tuesday in the Panmunjom "peace village" in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) at the border.

There are five senior officials on each side.

In his New Year address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had said he was considering sending a team to the Olympics. South Korea's Olympics chief had said last year that the North's athletes would be welcome.

Following Mr. Kim's overture, the South then proposed high-level talks to discuss the North's participation, but the North only agreed to the talks after the US and South Korea agreed to delay their joint military exercises until after the Olympics. The North sees the annual drills as a rehearsal for war.

Some critics in the US see the North's move as an attempt to divide the US-South Korea alliance.

Read also:  North and South Korea begin Olympic talks

 North Korea accepts to meet South Korea for peace talks

 North Korea reopens hotline to South to discuss Olympics

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