Seoul: N. Korea to send nominal head of state to S. Korea
file photo: NBC Sports
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) - North Korea plans to send a high-level delegation led by its nominal head of state to South Korea this week, Seoul officials said Sunday, as the rivals push through with rare rapprochement steps ahead of this month's Winter Olympics in the South.
Kim Yong Nam, the head of the North's parliament, will be the highest-level North Korean official to visit South Korea since the North sent then-No. 2 Hwang Pyong So at the close of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Kim's trip comes amid speculation that direct talks between North Korean and U.S. officials could be possible during the Olympics, with the U.S. sending Vice President Mike Pence to the games.
The North dispatching a high-level delegation was part of agreements the two Koreas struck last month over Olympic cooperation. The North is sending 22 athletes to the Pyeongchang games, which begin Friday.
On Sunday night, the North sent a message via a cross-border communication channel saying its delegation will visit South Korea from Feb. 9-11, the South's Unification Ministry said in a statement.
The statement did not provide details about Kim's itinerary.
The Koreas' reconciliation mood follows a year of heightened tensions over North Korea's advancing nuclear and missile programs. Some experts say the North may want to use its Olympic-related overture as a way to weaken U.S.-led international pressure and sanctions.