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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

South Korea and North Korea to hold working-level talks on January 15

Talks will address the prospects of North Korea sending its erformance art group to the Winter Olympics in South Korea

South Korea's unification minister Cho Myung-gyun (R) shakes hands with North Korean chief delegate Ri Son-gwon during their meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas on January 9, 2018. AFP
South Korea's unification minister Cho Myung-gyun (R) shakes hands with North Korean chief delegate Ri Son-gwon during their meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas on January 9, 2018. AFP

North Korea and South Korea have agreed to hold working-level talks at the Tongil Pavilion on the North Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom on January 15, South Korea's unification ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The delegation, to be led by an official from the ministry of culture, sports and tourism, will be sent to hold talks on the prospects of North Korea sending its performance art group to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Inter-Korean talks are held alternately at the Peace House, which is on the South Korean side of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone, and Tongil Pavilion in the North.

The ministry said earlier on Saturday that North Korea had proposed holding talks on January 15 about the matter.

"In addition, the ministry also requested for a quick response for South Korea's proposal on January 12 to have working-level talks about the North's participation in Pyongchang winter Olympics," added the ministry.

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Officials from North and South earlier this week said they had agreed to hold negotiations to resolve problems and avert accidental conflict, after their first official dialogue in more than two years amid high tension over the North's weapons programme.

South Korea had also said that it is seeking to form a combined women's hockey team with the North. The North Korea's International Olympics Committee (IOC) official said the committee is considering the proposal, while the two sides will also have talks hosted by IOC on January 20.

In a joint statement after 11 hours of talks on Tuesday, North and South Korea said they had agreed to hold military to military talks and that North Korea would send a large delegation to next month's Winter Olympics.

Washington welcomed as a first step to solving the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis, even though Pyongyang said those were aimed only at the US and not up for discussion.