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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 17:41 PM | 06-01-2018

North.Korea is ‘likely’ to join Winter Games

North Korea’s Olympic representative said on Saturday (Jan 6, 2018) the reclusive nation was “likely to participate” in next month’s Winter Games in South Korea, Kyodo news agency reported, in the latest sign of a thaw in tensions on the peninsula.

The comments by Chang Ung, Pyongyang’s representative to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), come a day after the North and South agreed to hold rare talks next week and follow Seoul and Washington’s announcement that they would postpone joint military exercises that rile North Korea.

The Japanese news agency said Chang made the brief comment to reporters during a stopover at Beijing’s international airport.

Kyodo said Chang was believed to be travelling to Switzerland, where the IOC is based, quoting unnamed sources as saying the trip may be aimed at meeting the committee to discuss the North’s potential participation in the Games at Pyeongchang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said in a New Year speech that his country wished success for the Olympics, to be held from February 9-25, and would consider sending a delegation.

The two Koreas have been separated by the world’s most heavily militarized border since the Korean War ended in a stalemate in 1953.

Seoul and organizers are keen for the North to take part in the Games to help ease worsening tensions on the Korean peninsula stemming from Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

In recent months, North Korea has held multiple missile launches and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test -- purportedly of a hydrogen bomb -- in violation of UN resolutions banning such activity by the isolated nation.

The region has been further rattled by tit-for-tat threats and insults between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

But the new year has witnessed a marked softening of tone.

Seoul has reacted warmly to Kim’s Olympic overture and the two Koreas this past week restored a cross-border hotline that had been shut down since 2016 and agreed to hold high-level talks next week -- the first since December 2015.

Those talks are expected to focus on matters including Olympic participation.

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