South again opens talks with North over Games

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South again opens talks with North over Games

South Korea has re-joined thorny negotiations over North Korea’s participation at next month’s Asian Games after the North agreed to scale down the size of its delegation last week, state media reported yesterday.

North Korea had threatened to pull out of the Games, to be held Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in Incheon, blaming the South for scuppering rare talks over the terms of hosting their large delegation of athletes and officials.

However, the North asked via letter exchanges last week to resume talks and said it would trim its delegation down to 273 from the 352 submitted to the Olympic Council of Asia earlier this month, South Korean media reported, citing the country’s Ministry of Unification, which handles ties with Pyongyang.

South Korean organizers of the games sent a two-page letter to the North through the liaison office at the truce village of Panmunjom on the heavily militarized border, Yonhap news agency said on Tuesday, citing a senior official at the Unification Ministry.

Stumbling blocks, though, still remain.

“Our stance is that there is a problem with the North’s plan to use the Yellow Sea route for a flight carrying the delegation,” Yonhap quoted the unnamed official as saying. “Other working issues were included [in the letter] as well.”

A major impediment has been who will foot the bill for hosting North Korea’s delegation.

Yonhap said the official had indicated the South was willing to show “some flexibility” on the matter.

“We will review relevant issues in accordance with a position to provide assistance necessary for the North Korean athletes and coaches to join the games,” the official said.

North Korea is sending 150 athletes to Incheon.

The reclusive country, which remains under heavy sanctions by the United Nations related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, won four gold medals in judo and weightlifting at the 2012 London Olympics to finish 20th on the table.

Reuters













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