UPDATE : 2019.12.12 THU 16:30
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N.K. holds welcoming dinner for S. Korean basketball players, officials

North Korea held a welcoming dinner Tuesday for a delegation of South Korean athletes and government officials visiting Pyongyang for inter-Korean friendly basketball matches.

The 100-strong delegation including coaches and journalists arrived at Pyongyang's Sunan airport earlier in the day on two military planes.

North Korea held the welcoming dinner at Pyongyang's Okryugwan restaurant, which is famous for cold noodles, called "naengmyeon" in Korean.

South Korea's basketball delegation takes a group picture after arriving in Pyongyang on July 3, 2018, in this photo released by the North's Korean Central News Agency. The brief report said the delegation will take part in inter-Korean basketball games for reunification. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il-guk attended the dinner, along with other officials including vice sports minister Won Kil-u.

"The two Koreas' athletes came together at this meaningful time," Kim said. "The basketball games will hugely contribute to boosting aspiration for unification and promoting inter-Korean sports exchanges as well as better ties between the two Koreas."

In response, South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said that the fact that the two Koreas are together is more meaningful than victory or defeat.

"Sports exchanges between the two Koreas have helped bring about reconciliation and peace on the Korean Peninsula. I hope that South and North Korea could hold sports events regularly and hold events at each other's venues."

The two Koreas plan to hold four basketball matches in Pyongyang on Wednesday and Thursday. The matches were arranged as a follow up to the agreement reached during working-level talks on sports exchanges in mid-June.

They will hold basketball matches for the first time in 15 years.

Kim Sua  edt@koreapost.com

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