North and South Korea Agree to Hold High-level Talks
Officials from South Korea and North Korea met face to face on Tuesday for the first time in more than two years in the border town of Panmunjom, in the Korean peninsula's heavily fortified demilitarized zone. During the meeting, North Korea agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
South Korea proposed the two sides march together during the opening and closing ceremonies and the North dispatch a cheering squad for the event, Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told a briefing. It also appealed for holding a Red Cross meeting on the reunion of families separated by the Korean War around the Lunar New Year's holiday in February.
"We also raised the need to end acts that can escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to resume dialogue to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, such as denuclearization," Chun said.
In return, North Korea has agreed to send a delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea. Furthermore, although the North's delegation insisted that key security concerns of South Korea and the international society, such as North’s nuclear program, are irrelevant to inter-Korean relations, the two nations have agreed to launch military talks in a bid to ease the year-long hostilities over North Korea's missile and nuclear testing in the region and US-South Korea joint military exercise over the peninsula.
North Korea boycotted the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and has never sent a delegation to the Winter Olympics since 1992. After South and North Korea reached the agreement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) very quickly expressed its welcome, and said it would discuss the details before making an official decision on the country's participation.
"These proposals mark a great step forward in the Olympic spirit," IOC President Thomas Bach said.