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South Korea Says North Korea Agrees to Take Part in Winter Olympics

FILE - The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under construction in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
FILE - The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium under construction in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

A South Korean official says North Korea has offered to send a high-level delegation to next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The proposal was made Tuesday during the first face-to-face talks between the bitter rivals in two years. Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told journalists in Seoul the North has offered to send a delegation of high-ranking officials, athletes and a cheering squad to the Games, which begin February 9.

Chun Hae-sung also said the South has proposed another reunion of family members separated since the 1950-53 civil war that divided the autocratic North and the democratic South, to be held next month during the Lunar New Year. He said Seoul has proposed the two sides march together during Pyeongchang Games opening ceremonies.

The talks are being held in Panmunjom — the so-called peace village straddling the border where the 1953 armistice that ended the fighting in the Korean War was signed. The two counties are still officially at war.

Tuesday's talks break a long freeze in inter-Korean relations escalated by North Korea's development of its nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs in defiance of international sanctions and aggravated by belligerent rhetoric between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kim Jong Un broke the ice in his New Year's Day speech when he offered to send a delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has sought better ties with the belligerent North, responded by offering talks with Kim's government.

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