North Korea says to send delegation to prepare for Olympics on Sunday – South Korea ministry

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach(C), the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the Republic of Korea (ROK), the NOC of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), and a delegation from the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee (POCOG) pose for a group photo at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, January 20, 2018. REUTERS/Pierre Albouy

By Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea will send a delegation to South Korea on Sunday to prepare for a trip by an art troupe during next month’s Winter Olympics, pushing the visit back a day after earlier cancelling it, South Korea’s Unification Ministry has said.

The North’s participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea’s Pyeongchang has been interpreted as an apparent diplomatic breakthrough after months of high tension over the North’s nuclear and missile programme.

North Korea sent a statement on Saturday saying it would send the delegation by a land route on Sunday, and the schedule during the visit could be carried out as previously agreed, the Unification Ministry said in a statement.

The South Korean government has agreed to the visit on Sunday, the ministry said.

A seven-member North Korean team had been scheduled to visit on Saturday to check venues for the performances, the ministry said, but late on Friday North Korea cancelled the visit.

At the Games, the two Koreas will field a combined women’s ice hockey team and march together under one flag, Seoul said earlier this week, after a new round of talks amid a thaw in cross-border ties.

Meanwhile, North Korea has accused the United Nations Secretary General of bias over its nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches for not also taking the United States to task over its own nuclear programme. The North criticised the U.S. and other nations for calling its nuclear programme “violations of resolutions”.

Pyongyang said the remarks it took issue with were in the vein of “the U.S. desperately trying to reverse the trend of detente and improvement of inter-Korean relations”, seemingly referring to the breakthrough surrounding the Winter Olympics, according to a statement from North Korea’s Permanent Mission to the UN.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Haejin Choi; Editing by Michael Perry and Andrew Bolton)

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