South proposes Olympics delegation talks: North Korea - <b>Technical Lobby</b>

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

South proposes Olympics delegation talks: North Korea

South Korea has offered high-level talks with North Korea on 9 January to discuss its possible participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

It comes after the North's leader Kim Jong-un said he was considering sending a team to Pyeongchang in South Korea for the Games in February.

He said the two sides should "urgently meet to discuss the possibility".

South Korea's president said he saw the offer as a "groundbreaking chance" to improve relations.

Olympics logo

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in also said the North's nuclear programme would be the backdrop of any sporting discussions.

"The improvement of relations between North and South Korea cannot go separately with resolving North Korea's nuclear programme, so the foreign ministry should co-ordinate closely with allies and the international community regarding this," said Mr Moon.

When did they last meet?

The last high-level talks took place in December 2015 in the Kaesong joint industrial zone.

They ended without any agreement and the meeting's agenda was not made public.

What has Kim Jong-un said?
North Korea's leader took many people by surprise when he said he was "open to dialogue" with his neighbours in his New Year's Day speech on Monday.

"The year 2018 is a significant year for both the North and the South, with the North marking the 70th anniversary of its birth and the South hosting the Winter Olympics.

"We should melt the frozen North-South relations, thus adorning this meaningful year as a year to be specially recorded in the history of the nation," he said.

North Korea PM

It came shortly after he made repeated threats against the US, saying nuclear button was "always on my table".

Where might they meet?
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon proposed on Tuesday that representatives could meet at Panmunjom, the so-called "truce village".
The village, in the heavily guarded demilitarised zone (DMZ) at the border, is where the Koreas have historically held talks.

"We hope that the South and North can sit face to face and discuss the participation of the North Korean delegation at the Pyeongchang Games as well as other issues of mutual interest for the improvement of inter-Korean ties," said Mr Cho.

It is not yet known who will be attending the proposed talks next week - if anyone, as North Korea has yet to respond.
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