North Korea to talk with South regarding upcoming Winter Olympics

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PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games
An ice sculpture of the Olympic rings is seen during the Pyeongchang Winter Festival, near the venue for the opening and closing ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

South Korean officials have confirmed that North Korea has accepted its offer to attend high-level talks with regards to the upcoming Winter Olympics in February.

The meeting is scheduled today, and it will focus South Korea’s invitation for North Korea to send its athletes to compete in the Winter Olympics that will be held on Feb. 9 to 25 in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.

The meeting will be held at Panmunjom, which is located at the border between the countries, which are technically still at war. This is the first time that North Korea has opened its cross-border communications channel with the South after almost two years of no dialogue. The last talks between the two nations were held back in 2015.

Kim Jong-un, the leader of the authoritarian northern nation, said last week that sending a delegation to the games would be “a good opportunity to show unity of the people.”

South Korean head-of-state Moon Jae-in previously shared his views that the upcoming Winter Olympics would be a groundbreaking opportunity to improve the relationships of the nations at odds.

While the meeting will begin with the Olympics, it is expected that representatives from both sides will discuss more than sports. “It’ll start with the Olympics but it won’t end with the Olympics,” said John Delury, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul. He noted that both sides are using sports diplomacy as a tool to push for dialogue on broader topics concerning both nations.

South Korean authorities are hoping that the Winter Olympics talks will pave the way for future dialogue between them and the rogue nation. According to South Korean Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan, they are using the Olympics to help reduce the military tensions on both sides of the border and to improve relations within the Korean Peninsula.

United States President Donald Trump, who has engaged in a Twitter war against North Korean leader Kim, said that if “something can come out of those talks that would be a great thing for all of humanity.”