N. Korea names delegates for inter-Korean talks

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SEOUL North Korea has named its delegation for a rare high-level meeting with the South this week, the Unification Ministry in Seoul said yesterday, as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cautiously welcomed the talks.

US President Donald Trump also welcomed the talks, saying on Saturday that any positive outcome is good. He would "absolutely" be willing to talk on the phone to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The two Koreas agreed last week to hold their first official dialogue in more than two years and are expected to discuss the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month.

The North Korean delegation for Tuesday's meeting in the border truce village of Panmunjom will be led by Mr Ri Son Gwon, head of the North's agency that handles inter-Korean affairs, the Unification Ministry said.

Four other officials will accompany Mr Ri. They include Vice-Minister of Physical Culture and Sports Won Kil U and member of the National Olympic Committee in North Korea Ri Kyong Sik.

The tentative rapprochement comes after Mr Kim warned in his New Year speech that he had a nuclear button on his desk but also added the North could send a team to the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Seoul responded with an offer of talks and last week, the hotline between the Koreas was restored after being suspended for almost two years.

Mr Abe voiced cautious hopes but stressed that having a meeting for the sake of a meeting would be a waste.