South Korean basketball teams travel to Pyongyang for friendlies

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Seoul, July 3 (IANS) The men and women national basketball teams of South Korea left on Tuesday for North Korea to play friendly matches amid the ongoing rapprochement on the peninsula.

A delegation consisting of basketball players, South Korean officials and local media left in two planes from the Seongnam airbase for Pyongyang around 10 a.m., Efe news reported.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, who is leading the delegation, said that he hoped these basketball matches “will serve as a chance to advance peace on the Korean Peninsula”.

Cho did not specify details on the itinerary of the delegation, which will return to South Korea on Friday, nor confirm whether he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during the visit.

The men and women national teams from both countries will compete in a total of four matches — two of which will be played between teams comprising mixed players from both countries on July 4-5 in Pyongyang as part of a sports exchange agreement adopted at a bilateral meeting.

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The idea of holding such an event was suggested by Kim Jong-un at the April 27 summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, during which Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to boost bilateral ties and work towards a permanent peace and the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

The two Koreas also agreed to organize more friendly matches in Seoul later this year.

–IANS

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