Two Koreas in talks on Winter Olympics athletes
SEOUL - Agence France-Presse
North Korea has offered to send more than 200 cheerleaders to the Winter Olympics in the South and attend the Paralympics, Seoul said as the two Koreas met on Jan. 17 to discuss athlete numbers in the latest in a flurry of cross-border talks.
Nuclear-armed Pyongyang agreed last week to send athletes, high-level officials, performers and others to next month’s Pyeongchang Games, taking place just 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the peninsula.
Seoul has long sought to proclaim the event a “peace Olympics” in the face of tensions over the North’s weapons programs -- which have seen it subjected to multiple UN Security Council sanctions -- and the discussions represent a marked improvement.
“Inter-Korean relations have been strained for almost 10 years,” the North’s chief delegate Jon Jong-Su said as the meeting started on the southern side of the border truce village of Panmunjom.
“We hope that ties can open,” he added.Three officials from each side took part and the results will be discussed by both Koreas with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Jan. 20.
The IOC must approve extra Olympic slots for the North’s athletes after they failed to qualify or missed deadlines to register.