Ri Son Gwon, chairman of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, left, and Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea’s unification minister, exchange joint statements during a meeting at the Peace House in the village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in Paju. (Photographer: KPPA/Pool via Bloomberg)

Two Koreas Resume Olympics Talks Amid New Signs of Strain

(Bloomberg) -- Delegates from the two Koreas are meeting Monday morning to discuss North Korea’s participation in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, even as Pyongyang takes umbrage with Seoul’s attempts to raise the issue of denuclarization.

The meeting, on the north side of the truce village of Panmunjom, started at 10:11 a.m. Seoul time, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry. Discussions will be on issues including the artist troupe that North Korea plans to send to the Pyeongchang Games, the route that delegates will take south and details of performance schedules, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“The art troupe’s planned visit is drawing a lot of interest and expectations internally and externally,” Lee Woo-sung, a senior official at South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said in televised comments Monday. “We will coordinate calmly to yield a good agreement.”

The meeting comes after North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency warned Sunday that South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s attempts to link reconciliation between the two sides to denuclearization were “ill-boding” and risked “chilling the atmosphere.”

In the first round of high-level talks between the countries in more than two years, North Korea said last week it would send a delegation to the Olympics. The regime plans to have officials, athletes, a cheering squad, art performers, observers, martial artists and reporters attend the Games in the ski resort not far from the border.

North Korea’s planned participation in the Winter Games starting Feb. 9 brings potential benefits to the troubled Korean peninsula, which has been divided for about 70 years. Kim Jong Un gets the opportunity to ease the global pressure on his isolated regime, while Moon can bet on a more peaceful Olympics and claim a victory in his push for dialogue.

The two nations, which are still technically at war, agreed in a joint statement to hold military talks and further high-level dialogues. North Korea took issue with South Korea raising the issue of denuclearization during the meeting, with its top delegate issuing a “strong complaint” to his counterparts from Seoul.

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