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North Korea will send athletes to the Olympic Games in South Korea in advance



The development came after Mr. Ri opened the talks by throwing a curved ball: he suggested that the talks be open to journalists. That way, he said, people in both Koreas could witness the sincerity of the North about improving ties.

But, distrusting the dominance of North Korea's propaganda, Mr. Cho agreed to only open parts of the talks to gather reporters.

Closed-circuit television images of the conversations in Panmunjom, in the middle of the world's most dangerous border, were relayed in real time to Seoul, where officials examined North Korea's tactics. The North broadcast the audio of the meeting to its capital, Pyongyang.

While the focus of Tuesday's talks was the Olympic Games, South Korean officials were expected to explore whether North Korea is interested in talks with the United States to ease tensions over its nuclear weapons programs.

Photo

The unification minister of South Korea, Cho Myoung-gyon, went with Mr. Ri before the start of his talks.

Credit
Photo of the pool of Yonhap, through the Associated Press

In his New Year's speech, Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, proposed a dialogue with South Korea to discuss the participation of his country in the Games from Pyeongchang. In the same speech, he also claimed to have acquired a nuclear deterrent, including intercontinental ballistic missiles that, he said, he could unleash in the United States with his "nuclear button".

Some analysts said that Mr. Kim hoped to use those of his self-proclaimed state as a state of nuclear weapons as leverage to obtain concessions from Washington, particularly to ease the increasingly catastrophic sanctions. President Trump and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson said that Mr. Kim's decision to start a dialogue with South Korea was a sign that his campaign to isolate the North was working.

The talks in Panmunjom provide an opportunity to assess whether North Korea is willing to moderate its behavior after a year of provocative nuclear and missile tests that have raised fears of a total war on the Korean Peninsula.

But the initial focus was on the Olympic Games.

South Korean officials must still nail down the travel, accommodation and other logistics route of an Olympic delegation from North Korea. They are also expected to propose that the two delegations march together behind a "unified Korea" flag during the opening and closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, a symbolic gesture for a peninsula that was divided in the north supported by the Soviets and the South American pro. after the liberation of Japan's colonial rule at the end of World War II.

North Korea has traditionally sent only a small delegation to the Winter Games and has never won a gold medal for them.

The International Olympic Committee is eager for the North to return, promising to help cover the expenses of its athletes in Pyeongchang.

So far, the only North Korean athletes who have qualified for the Pyeongchang Games are a couples figure skating team. But North Korea missed a deadline of October 31 to accept invitations from the I.O.C. and South Korea to join the Games. The I.O.C. He has said he remained flexible, willing to consider wild card entries for North Korean athletes.

In the last decades, North Korea has alternated between provocation and dialogue, and it was not clear if its participation in the Olympic Games marked a softening. For South Koreans, who have been shaken by the exchange of threats of war between North Korea and the United States in the last year, the border talks offer a welcome suspension, although some analysts warned that it could be short-lived. [19659018] South Korea hopes that the talks in Panmunjom will lead to other measures to ease tensions, such as temporary meetings of elderly people in both Koreas separated from their relatives since the Korean War.

The South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, is a strong advocate of dialogue with North Korea, even when his country's US allies say that military action remains an option to stop the North's nuclear policy .

Mr. Moon's government says North Korea will be less likely to conduct a nuclear or missile test during the Olympics if its athletes compete in the south. He hopes to use such pause in the confrontation to create momentum for negotiations between North Korea and the United States.

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