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Moon likely to meet N. Korean delegation to Olympics: official

President Moon Jae-in will likely hold a meeting with North Korea's delegation to the closing ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, an official from the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Thursday.

The North Korean delegation is set to arrive here Sunday for the closing of the Winter Olympic Games later the same day. It will be led by Kim Yong-chol, the head of the ruling party's United Front Department and former chief of North Korea's reconnaissance bureau.

"We believe President Moon will naturally meet the (North Korean) delegation at the closing ceremony," the Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The official, while speaking on condition of anonymity, noted that the president may also meet the North Koreans for formal talks later in the week.

"I guess there will likely be various discussions on ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula, improve the South-North Korea relationship and promote reconciliation since they will be here anyways," the official said.

The official, however, said there will likely not be any direct contact between the North Koreans and a US delegation led by US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka.

"There is no plan, nor will there be a chance, for a meeting between the North and the US during their visit to South Korea for the closing ceremony," the Cheong Wa Dae official said, also noting Cheong Wa Dae plans to make sure their paths do not cross at the closing ceremony.

The move comes after an apparently botched attempt by Seoul to mediate a meeting between US Vice President Mike Pence and a North Korean delegation led by Pyongyang's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam.

The White House earlier said the vice president was initially scheduled to meet the North Korean delegation that included leader Kim Jong-un's younger sister, Yo-jong, but that the North Koreans pulled out at the last minute from what was to be the countries' first high-profile meeting in Seoul.

Kim Yong-chol, the head of the North Korean delegation to the closing ceremony, is also blacklisted under Washington's unilateral sanctions against Pyongyang, according to officials here.

The eight-member North Korean delegation is scheduled to return home on Tuesday, one day after Ivanka Trump and the other US delegates will head home. (Yonhap)

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