OLYMPICS/IOC chief Bach arrives to North Korea, to stay until Saturday

OLYMPICS/IOC chief Bach arrives to North Korea, to stay until Saturday

OLYMPICS/IOC chief Bach arrives to North Korea, to stay until Saturday

President Thomas Bach travelled to Pyongyang yesterday, Yonhap news agency reported, a visit that comes after North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Games helped ease inter-Korean relations.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Friday he had constructive talks about North Korea's participation in the 2020 Tokyo and 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Bach told Reuters during the February 9-25 Winter Olympics that he would make the visit on the North's invitation as part of an agreement between the International Olympic Committee and both North and South Korea.

South and North Korean athletes marched together under a united Korea flag at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics' opening ceremony and formed a joint women's ice hockey team.

Bach's exact itinerary in Pyongyang remains unclear but his visit comes amid a flurry of worldwide outreach by North Korea.

In line with the decisions reached at the January 20 meeting, the North not only sent Olympic athletes but also a cheerleading squad and an arts troupe, easing military tensions and paving the way for inter-Korea talks.

In a one-line dispatch Pyongyang's official KCNA news agency noted Bach had arrived with his delegation but provided no further details.Last month's Games triggered a dramatic rapprochement with the isolated North, which sent athletes, cheerleaders and officials to take part.

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The Winter Games triggered a fast-moving rapprochement that will see Kim sit down with the South's President Moon Jae-in in late April, with a U.S. summit with President Donald Trump planned for May. "We can not lead their political negotiations".

The meeting comes less than a week after Kim traveled to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Kim told Bach that the Olympics had "opened a new chapter of concord between the north and the south", KCNA said.

The visit finished with a dinner hosted by the President of the Praesidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, Kim Yong-nam, who had led the DPRK delegation to the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. He added that Kim told him the North's participation in the Pyeongchang games and marching together with South Korean athletes were an "important contribution to a peaceful dialogue". He called for further co-operation with the International Olympic Committee in developing winter sports and other sports activities in North Korea, the agency said.

The two men held discussions about the development of sport in the North and attended a women's football match.

This support has already begun, with immediate assistance to athletes from the DPRK NOC to compete in the table tennis World Championships, which are taking place in Sweden this April.

Trump is then due to meet Kim before the end of May for talks on Pyongyang's denuclearization.

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