North and South Korea hold new round of talks centered on Olympics
ABC News(PYEONGCHANG, North Korea) — North and South Korea held their second working-level talks this week on Wednesday two days after the two Koreas exchanged opinions on the North’s performance teams coming to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month.
Among the agreements made on Wednesday, according to Korean news outlet Yonhap, were for North Korea to send a team to the Paralympics, being held in Pyeongchang from March 9 to 18.
The talks were held in a building on the southern side of Panmunjom, the border town along the demilitarized zone, beginning at 10 a.m. Korean time. The first session of talks lasted 45 minutes.
Speculation from Yonhap prior to Wednesday’s talks was that discussions would center around North and South athletes marching together in the Opening Ceremony, travel expenses and a joint female ice hockey team. The two Koreas also shared thoughts on the performance team’s travel routes and accommodations.
The delegation list was also to be settled in Wednesday’s talks.
South Korean media outlet News1 said government officials are paying attention to the North’s possible inclusion of Choe ryong hae in the delegation. Choe is the second-most powerful man in Pyeongyang, and blacklisted according to Seoul’s unilateral punitive actions.
The two Koreas will also discuss the results of Wednesday’s talks at an International Olympic Committee meeting on Saturday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The South’s delegation is led by Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung. The North’s chief delegate is Jon Jong-su, the vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC), and North Korea’s state agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs. Won Kil-u, the vice sports minister for North Korea, will also be there. Kim Kang-kuk, the third delegate on the North side, whose title was not verified until Wednesday morning, turned out to be a journalist from the country’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
A senior State Department official told reporters on the sidelines of Tuesday’s Vancouver Group summit — a set to talks on the Koreas, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his Canadian counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland — that the they are “pleased” about the talks between North and South Korea regarding the Olympics, but have seen no change in North Korea’s posture with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
“We are pleased that the there were talks around the Olympics and cultural exchanges. We think that’s entirely appropriate given the Olympic Games coming up,” the official said. “We have not seen any induction that North Korea has changed its posture on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”
At the opening of Tuesday’s summit, the Japanese foreign minister warned top diplomats to not be “naive” about North Korea’s intent in their dialogue with their southern neighbors.
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