Friday, 22 June, 2018

International Olympic Committee extends North Korea's Winter Olympics participation decision 'deadline'

CIA Chief Defends Intelligence on North Korean Threat North Korea to send delegation to Winter Olympics, South Korea's officials say after rare talks
Terence Owen | 09 January, 2018, 11:08

It comes after the North's leader Kim Jong-Un suggested in his New Year's address that the country would be willing to send a team to the games, prompting Seoul to offer to hold a high-level dialogue, despite high tensions surrounding missile testing in the region.

Seoul responded with an offer of a high-level dialogue, and last week the hotline between the neighbours was restored after being suspended for nearly two years.

The delegations were made up of five senior officials from each side.

The North Korean delegation is headed by Ri Son Gwon, a hardliner who heads a government agency that handles relations with South Korea. Each will have a hotline at their disposal, direct to the Peace House. "That is [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un's strategic intention", Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies said. Cho also wore a lapel badge, depicting the South Korean flag. "Peacemaking efforts between the two Koreas alone are only part of the solution".

The IOC, which is eager to have North Korean athletes at the Games, did not say until when the registration deadline had been extended until but most sports have completed their Olympic qualifying events.

The group may stay on a cruise ship in Sokcho, about an hour's drive from the Olympic venue - which would enable their movements to be closely monitored and controlled.

Head of the North Korean delegation Ri Son Gwon shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Cho Myoung-gyon during their meeting at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, January 9, 2018.

In his New Year's Day address, Kim said there is an urgent need to improve inter-Korean ties and that he is willing to send a delegation to the February 9-25 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

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. He said the time was set together with the North earlier.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has sought better ties with the belligerent North, responded by offering talks with Kim's government.

North Korea has made several overtures for dialogue during the past quarter-century, with Japan, the USA and South Korea responding favorably.

He has participated in talks with North Korea since the 1990s, including their last summit in 2007.

North Korea's recent abrupt push to improve ties with South Korea wasn't totally unexpected, as the country has a history of launching provocations and then pursuing dialogue with rivals Seoul and Washington in an attempt to win concessions.

The easing of military tensions on the peninsula, reunions between separated families, and economic cooperation are some of the pending issues between the two Koreas. He urged Seoul to halt the military drills with the USA and said he has a "nuclear button" to launch missiles at any target in the United States.

The Trump administration has agreed to delay upcoming springtime drills with South Korea until after the Olympic Games.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon expressed optimism as the meeting began.

"As President Moon has said, the improvement of relations between North and South Korea can not advance separately from resolving North Korea's nuclear program", Brian Hook, a chief adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, told reporters in a conference call late Monday Washington time.

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