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Little Progress But Important Korean Talk Starts

(WEBPUBLICAPRESS) New York — North Korea has offered to send athletes, officials and supporters to the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea. The offer was made during a rare meeting in the demilitarized zone between the two countries, Radio Deutsche Welle (RDW) reported quoting other agencies.

North Korea's Ri Son Gwon and South Korea's Cho Myong Gyon shake hands across a table on January 9 (picture-alliance/dpa/YNA)

North Korea offered to send athletes and a high-level delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, South Korean officials said on Tuesday as the two countries held talks for the first time in two years.

North and South Korean figure skaters forge friendship

Alongside officials, Pyongyang offered to send journalists, a cheering squad, a team of performing artists and a taekwondo demonstration team, according to South Korean officials.

Read moreWhat to expect from North and South Korea meeting ahead of Winter Olympics

Delegations of five senior officials from each side met at the “peace house” on the South Korean side of the Panmunjom truce village as the two countries officially held talks for the first time in two years.

South Korea proposed that the athletes from both countries march together at the opening and closing ceremonies, South Korea’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporteres. He also said his country proposed resuming family reunions and military discussions to prevent “accidental clashes” in frontline areas.

Read more:  North Korea ‘likely’ to take part in Winter Olympics in South Korea

North Korea's delegation, lead by Ri Son Gwon (middle), arrives in the South Korean side of Panmunjom (picture-alliance/AP Photo/Yonhap/Korea Pool)North Korea’s delegation, lead by Ri Son Gwon (middle), arrives in the South Korean side of Panmunjom

‘A New Year’s gift’

Entering the talks, officials from both countries made positive statements about discussions concerning the Winter Olympics.

“I think we should be engaged in these talks with an earnest, sincere manner to give a New Year’s first gift — precious results to the Korean nation,” said Ri Son Gwon, head of North Korea’s delegation.

Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea’s Unification Minister, believed the Pyeongchang Olympics “will become a peace Olympics as most valuable guests from the North are going to join many others from around the world.”

Ri and Cho shook hands as they entered the peace house and again across the table where the talks took place.

“The people have a strong desire to see the North and South move toward peace and reconciliation,” Cho said.

Kim warns US about nuclear forces, conciliatory message to Seoul

Trump: talks ‘a good thing’

Tuesday’s summit was arranged after North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, recently pushed for improved relations with South Korea.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have elevated as North Korea has pushed toward developing nuclear weapons in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions. Critics say the talks are an attempt for Kim to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States.

However, US President Donald Trump, who has taken repeated jabs at Kim on his Twitter account, has called the talks “a good thing.” The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, later said the administration was not changing its conditions regarding talks with North Korea, saying Kim would first need to stop weapons testing for a “significant amount of time.” (Source RDW)

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