Inter Korean Olympic Agreement: An Opening To Reduced Tensions, For Now

North Korea has agreed to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea's Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung confirmed on Tuesday.

Hae-sung says the North made such a statement during rare talks between the rivals at the border on Tuesday.

He cited the North Korean officials there as saying its delegation would include officials, athletes, cheerleaders and journalists.

Seoul proposed inter-Korean military talks to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula and a reunion of family members in time for February's Lunar New Year holiday.

South Korea also proposed that athletes from the two Koreas march together at the Games' opening ceremony and other joint activities between the two nations during the Games, Chun told reporters.

North Korea responded by saying the two Koreas must try to promote peace and reconciliation through dialogue, he said.

The Koreas' first talks in two years were arranged after North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un recently made an abrupt push for improved ties with South Korea after a year of elevated tensions with the outside world over his expanding nuclear and missile programs.

Critics say Kim may be trying to divide Seoul and Washington in a bid to weaken international pressure and sanctions on the North.

The two sides were to continue their negotiations later Tuesday at Panmunjom, the only place on the tense border where North and South Korean soldiers are just feet away from each other.

The meeting began with an amicable atmosphere, with chief North Korean delegate Ri Son Gwon saying he hopes the talks would give "a New Year's first gift - precious results (of the talks) to the Korean nation."

Ri's South Korean counterpart, Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, said he also hopes they would come up with a "good gift" for people in both Koreas.

The overall prospect for the negotiations was still unclear. The two Koreas have a long history of ending key talks without any agreement and failing to follow through with rapprochement accords.

An agreement on the North's Olympic participation had been widely expected before the talks began, but the Koreas remain sharply at odds over how to improve their overall ties.

(With inputs from AP & Reuters)

Source :

North Korea to send delegation to Pyeongchang for next month's Winter Olympics
North Korea to send Olympic delegation to Pyeongchang as tensions ease
North Korea to join Olympics in South Korea as tensions ease
Inter-Korean talks pave way for further de-escalation of tension : U.S. experts
North and South Korea agree to talk with goal to ‘relieve military tensions’
Koreas agree to military talks, NK confirms PyeongChang participation