World

Koreas agree on united women’s hockey team for Winter Olympics

SEOUL: The two Koreas yesterday agreed to form a united women's hockey team for next month's Winter Olympics in the South, the latest in a flurry of cross-border talks.

Following a working-level meeting held at the truce village of Panmunjom, the two sides also announced that their athletes would make a joint entrance carrying a pro-unification flag, according to Yonhap news agency.

North Korea will also send 230 cheerleaders and a 30-strong taekwondo delegation as well as a 150-member delegation for the Paralympics.

South Korea has agreed to send its athletes to the North's Masikryong ski resort for training ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics that run through Feb 9 to 25.

North Korea also proposed that its delegation travel by land through Kaesong, which lies on the main road from Pyongyang to Seoul.

SANCTIONS

Overland travel may be the only option for the North as the neighbours have no direct flights between them and Seoul's unilateral sanctions against the regime ban any ship from its ports that has sailed to the North within the past 12 months.

South Korea will also need to find ways to accommodate the North Korean delegation without violating UN Security Council sanctions which block cash transfers to Pyongyang.

Any blacklisted officials in the North's high-level delegation could be another potential stumbling block.

Seoul has long sought to proclaim the event a "peace Olympics" in the face of tensions over the North's weapons programmes - which have seen it subjected to multiple UN Security Council sanctions - and the discussions represent a marked improvement.

Three officials from each side took part and the results will be discussed by both Koreas with the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday. - AFP

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