N.Korea to send delegation for Winter Olympics closing ceremony

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Seoul, Feb 22 (IANS) North Korea on Thursday said it would send a high-level delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics’ closing ceremony, the Unification Ministry confirmed here.

Kim Yong-chol, head of the ruling party’s United Front Department, will lead the eight-member delegation for a three-day trip that will start on Sunday, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The delegation also includes Ri Son-gwon, the head of the North’s agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs.

“The government thinks the delegation’s dispatch will help improve inter-Korean relations and bring peace to the Korean Peninsula, including the North’s denuclearisation,” the ministry said.

“In that sense, Seoul will accept their visit.”

North Korea sent a high-level delegation that includes its ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jong, the younger sister of the North’s leader Kim Jong-un, from February 9 to 11 to attend the Olympics’ opening ceremony.

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Kim Yo-jong delivered her brother’s letter to President Moon Jae-in, which includes an invitation of the South’s leader to Pyongyang at an early date.

A flurry of sports diplomacy between the two Koreas began after the North’s leader expressed a willingness to send a delegation to the Games in his New Year’s Day message.

But the inclusion of Kim Yong-chol in the delegation is likely to stir up a dispute as he is blacklisted under Seoul’s unilateral sanctions.

Kim Yong-chol, former chief of North Korea’s reconnaissance bureau, was also suspected of having orchestrated Pyongyang’s two deadly attacks on the South in 2010 — the sinking of the Cheonan warship and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

–IANS

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