Leading a delegation to the inter-Korean talks on the North's participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, a senior South Korean government official said Wednesday his team will discuss key issues in a "calm" manner.
The two sides are scheduled to hold "working-level" talks at the Peace House, which is on the South Korean side of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), later in the day.
"In today's working-level talks, (we) plan to focus consultations on the issue of administrative procedures related to North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Olympics and Paralympics in accordance with the agreement at the high-level talks between South and North Korea on Feb. 9," Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters, as he headed to the truce village.
He added the South's delegation will have discussions with the North "in a calm manner on the basis of the spirit of mutual respect and understanding" so that the PyeongChang Games will be staged peacefully and serve as a chance for bringing lasting peace to the Korean Peninsula.
The North has informed the South that its chief delegate will be Jon Jong-su, the vice chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC), which is in charge of inter-Korean affairs.
Agenda items include the size of the North's Olympic delegation, transportation, costs, a joint appearance at the opening ceremony and a unified women's ice hockey team.
The two Koreas had a ministerial meeting last Tuesday, in which the North agreed to send athletes and art performers to the Olympics. They agreed to discuss relevant details in working-level talks.
They had a round of negotiations on the North's art performance group Monday at the Tongilgak, a North Korean pavilion at Panmunjom.
The North's leader Kim Jong-un extended a rare offer of rapprochement to Seoul in his New Year's Day speech following a series of nuclear and missile tests last year.
The outcome of Wednesday's talks is expected to be discussed at the International Olympic Committee's meeting with officials from the Koreas slated for Saturday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The South's government is carefully reviewing ways to greet the North's Olympic delegation in a way that does not violate multilayered sanctions on the communist regime.
Under U.N. sanctions, the South can't offer cash directly to the North when it supports delegates' accommodation expenses.
Sea travel could be in violation of South Korea's unilateral sanctions that ban the entry to South Korea of any vessel that has sailed to North Korea within the past 12 months.
It is highly likely that North Koreans would travel to the South by land. The North asked the South to allow its art troupe to cross the border via Panmunjom for concerts during the Olympics.
Another sticking point is the North's possible inclusion in its delegation of high-ranking officials blacklisted by U.N. sanctions or by Seoul's unilateral punitive actions. (Yonhap)
Kim Jung-mi firstname.lastname@example.org
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