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IOC president to visit North Korea after Winter Games

Reuters/NAN

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach will visit North Korea after the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Reuters reported on Monday.

The visit is part of an agreement between the IOC and both North Korea and South Korea, according to a source.

The source said the trip would be “sometime after the Olympic Games’’, which are due to finish on Feb. 25, and did not comment on the agenda for the visit.

North Korea agreed to participate in PyeongChang after Games’ host South Korea and the IOC encouraged the reclusive, heavily-sanctioned state to participate as a gesture of peace.

Athletes from North and South Korea, technically still at war, marched together at the Games opening ceremony.

Both countries have fielded a unified women’s ice hockey team, the first time an inter-Korean team has competed at any Olympic Games.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been using the Games in his efforts to re-engage with the North and to pave the way for talks over the North’s weapons programme.

The IOC and the two Koreas signed a tripartite agreement on Jan. 20 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It set out the details of North Korea’s Olympic participation, including the number of athletes, the sports they would take part in as well as their joint march.

The agreement was seen as a breakthrough, given the Koreas had not marched together at an Olympics for more than 12 years.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in hosted two of North Korea’s most senior officials at the Games opening ceremony, including North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister.

Moon warmly shook hands with her and later held talks with her in Seoul.

Kim Jong Un has invited Moon for talks in Pyongyang, South Korean officials said, setting the stage for the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than a decade.

The thaw in relations has centred on the Olympics.

It has led to a senior American member of the IOC calling for the joint ice hockey team to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The team had included 12 North Korean players.

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