UPDATE : 2018.8.15 WED 08:22
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Moon says Olympics a chance to mend ties, promote peace with N. Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sought to win international support for his country's recently resumed dialogue with North Korea on Friday, noting such an opportunity may have not come in the first place if not for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

"Today, many heads of state and leaders of the world are here in this place. Right now, I realize how meaningful and fortunate it is to have such a sports event in a world where confrontation and conflict also exist," Moon said in a speech delivered at a special reception dinner for the visiting global leaders.

The dinner was held just hours before Moon and the other global leaders are due to attend the opening of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, located 180 kilometers east of Seoul in Gangwon Province.

"Though we are here together, there exist many difficult issues that need to be resolved by different countries. South Korea too has difficult problems with some other countries that it needs to resolve. There are also those who may not have been with us had it not been for the PyeoongChang Winter Olympic Games," he said, according to a script of his speech released by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

Moon was apparently referring to North Korea, which decided to take part in the quadrennial event at the last minute following its dialogue with Seoul last month.

A high-profile North Korean delegation arrived here earlier in the day, led by the country's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam. Kim was also present at the reception dinner in Yongpyeong, just east of PyeongChang. The North Korean delegation also included North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's only known sister, Yo-jong.

"The most important fact is that we are here together. The fact that we are here together will mark the precious start of our first step toward global peace," Moon told the reception that involved around 200 people, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (at podium) delivers a welcome speech in a reception held before the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 9, 2018. (Yonhap)

Moon also welcomed the agreement between the divided Koreas to form a single unified women's hockey team.

"South and North Korean players helping each other to win will be remembered as a great echo of peace in the hearts of the global population," he said.

The president expressed hope that the recent rapprochement between the two Koreas will ensure dialogue and peace in the future.

"A poet once sang every snowman begins with a small lump of snow. We must roll the small lump of snow now in our hands together and carefully. Should we join our hearts, the lump of snow will get bigger and bigger and eventually become a snowman of peace," Moon said.

"In just few hours from now, the winter of PyeongChang will come brightly to life. With the opening ceremony, friendship and peace begin. I wish future generations will remember this day and record this day as a special day of the Winter Olympic Games when peace began," he added. (Yonhap)

Lee Sam-sun  edt@koreapost.com

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