South

N Korea’s top official to visit South

MNA International Desk: North Korea’s ceremonial head of state will visit the South this week and attend the Winter Olympics opening ceremony as the divided peninsula witnesses a rare thaw after a year of high tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

Kim Yong-Nam will technically be the most senior official from the North ever to travel to the other side of the Demilitarized Zone that has for decades divided the two Koreas, reported news agency.

His trip will be the diplomatic high point of the rapprochement between the two Koreas triggered by the Pyeongchang Olympics in the South, which have their opening ceremony on Friday — although analysts warn that their newly warmed relations may not last long beyond the Games.

Tensions spiralled last year as the North carried out multiple weapons tests, including intercontinental ballistic missiles it says are capable of reaching the mainland United States, and its most powerful nuclear blast to date.

For months Pyongyang ignored Seoul’s entreaties to take part in a “peace Olympics”, until leader Kim Jong-Un indicated his willingness to do so in his New Year speech.

That set off a rapid series of meetings which saw the two agree to march together at the opening ceremony and form a unified women’s ice hockey team, their first for 27 years.

The North’s Olympic participation would include a visit by a high-level delegation, they agreed.

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