First North, South Korea Talks in 2 Years Yield Breakthrough

Pyongyang will send delegation to Winter Games
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2018 1:13 AM CST
Updated Jan 9, 2018 6:34 AM CST
South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, third from right, and head of North Korean delegation Ri Son Gwon, third from left, with their delegation meet in the Demilitarized Zone, Tuesday, Jan....   (Korea Pool via AP)
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(Newser) – The Winter Olympics has brought a thaw in relations between the Koreas: After talks in the truce village of Panmunjom on Tuesday, a South Korean official announced that North Korea will be sending a delegation including officials, athletes, and a cheer squad next month to the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, reports Reuters. South Korea's Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung says negotiators also discussed allowing the reunification of families separated by the Korean War in time for next month's Lunar New Year holiday. The South has also proposed having athletes from the two Koreas march together at the opening ceremony under the same flag for the first time since 2006, the BBC reports.

The International Olympic Committee says it has "kept the door open" for the North to take part in the Games, which begin Feb. 9. The Panmunjom negotiations are the first high-level talks between the Koreas in more than two years. "North Korea said that they are determined to make today's talks fruitful, and make it a groundbreaking opportunity," Chun told reporters, adding that Seoul has also proposed restarting talks over Pyongyang's nuclear program. Analysts, however, say that before North Korea agrees to moves like family reunifications or military talks with the South, it is likely to demand that Seoul halt or at least scale back joint military drills with the US, the AP reports. (Read more North Korea stories.)

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