North Korea could take part in Winter Olympics hosted by South Korea

North Korea could take part in next month's Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, despite tensions between both countries.

North Korea President Kim Jong Un gave the first indication of their participation in the Feb 9-25 Games during his new year address to the nation yesterday.

He said: "I sincerely hope the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will be staged successfully. We are willing to take necessary measures including to dispatch our delegation. For this purpose, authorities of the North and South would be able to meet in the near future."

Seoul's presidential Blue House responded positively to Kim's proposal for talks about sending a delegation to the Games.

"We welcome it," a statement said. "Should the Olympics be staged successfully, it will contribute to peace not only on the Korean peninsula but in the region and the world as well."

Lee Hee Beom, the head of the Pyeongchang Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, told AFP: "We've been preparing for the Olympics on the assumption that the North will eventually take part."

Two North Korean athletes - pairs figure skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik - qualified for the Games but the North Korean authorities missed an Oct 30 deadline to confirm their participation and will need an invitation from the International Olympic Committee. - AFP