Seoul seeks high-level talks with visiting N.Korean delegates

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Seoul, Feb 5 (IANS) South Korea will strive to hold high-level inter-Korean talks during a North Korean government delegation’s visit later this week to attend the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony, the Unification Ministry said on Monday.

On Sunday night, North Korea announced that Kim Yong-nam, the North’s ceremonial head of state, will visit the South from Friday to Sunday as head of the 22-member delegation to the Games which will begin on Friday, reports Yonhap News Agency.

Kim, 90, heads the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly.

“The government plans to make preparations in a way that talks between high-level government officials from the South and the North could take place in line with the North Korean delegation’s attendance at the Olympic opening ceremony and other sports events during their stay here,” Baik Tae-hyun, a ministry spokesman, told a press briefing.

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“The government hopes that the upcoming visit by the high-level North Korean delegation will become a milestone in hosting an Olympics of peace, restoring inter-Korean relations and building peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

The spokesman added the government will provide the necessary convenience and safety during their stay here.

The specifics of the planned trip, including the itinerary, will be further discussed through exchanges of documents, Baik added.

The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae has said President Moon Jae-in is considering a one-on-one meeting with Kim.

Pyongyang also notified Seoul of its plan to send the 140-member Samjiyon orchestra on the Mangyongbong-92 ferry on Tuesday and use the vessel as an accommodation for their art troupe, the spokesman said.

The Samjiyon orchestra will hold two concerts — one in Gangneung, an eastern city near PyeongChang, on Thursday and the other in Seoul on Sunday.

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During the high-level inter-Korean talks in January, North Korea agreed to dispatch its athletes, a cheering squad and an art troupe to the Winter Olympics.

–IANS

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