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N. Korea to Send Orchestra to S. Korea to Perform During Olympics


FILE - A man walks by the Olympic rings with a sign of 2018 Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 3, 2017.

North Korea will send a 140-member orchestra to perform during the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, a move seen by the South's government as a conciliatory gesture following months of nuclear tensions.

South Korean officials say the decision was made during a meeting between delegations from the two Koreas who met for the second time in a week Monday in the border village of Panmunjom as they try to work out details of the North's participation in the Olympics.

The two sides agreed the orchestra would hold performances in Seoul and at Gangneung near the Olympic site of Pyeongchang, South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a statement.

FILE - South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, right, talks with the head of North Korean delegation Ri Son Gwon during their meeting at the Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, Jan. 9, 2018.
FILE - South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, right, talks with the head of North Korean delegation Ri Son Gwon during their meeting at the Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone in Paju, South Korea, Jan. 9, 2018.

South Korean officials say the North's orchestra will play traditional folk songs and classical music, and say the two countries' orchestras may hold a joint concert.

The decision to host the orchestra "contributes to improving relations and recovering the cultural homogeneity" between the two Koreas, the South's ministry said.

The North has said its delegation to the Winter Games in Pyeongchang would include artists, officials and journalists, as well as athletes.

The two sides will hold more talks Wednesday on the North's athletes attending the Olympics. South Korea has also proposed a united women's ice hockey team with the North.

The International Olympic Committee must approve the proposals for athletes and is expected to meet with officials from both Koreas on Saturday at its headquarters in Switzerland.

North Korea's recent conciliatory moves in connection with the Olympics are widely viewed as an attempt to ease tensions after last year's nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Despite the gestures, the two Koreas showed this weekend they still harbor bitter animosities.

The North issued a statement Sunday saying it could still cancel its plans for the Olympics in protest of recent comments by South Korean President Moon Jae-in crediting U.S. President Donald Trump with getting the North to talk with the South.

"They should know that trains and buses carrying our delegation to the Olympics are still in Pyongyang,'' the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

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