North Korea and South Korea just wrapped up their first official diplomatic talks in two years, and the two sides agreed to provisions that will see the DPRK participate in their first Winter Olympics since 2010. After negotiating in the Demilitarized Zone, the countries decided to reopen a military hotline and pledged to hold further talks, agreeing that “current military tension must be resolved.” South Korea will temporarily lift sanctions on North Korea, thus allowing them to participate in next month’s Olympics. After boycotting the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, this will be the first time the North will send its Olympic athletes South.
North Korea will send a delegation of athletes, officials, reporters, and fans to the Games, and the two countries plan to march together during the opening and closing ceremonies. North Korean officials, however, declined to discuss their nuclear weapons program, saying in a statement that only the U.S. needed to worry about nukes, not their “brethren” in South Korea. “This is not a matter between North and South Korea, and to bring up this issue would cause negative consequences and risks turning all of today’s good achievement into nothing,” the statement said. South Korea’s unification minister added,“We will closely coordinate with the United States, China, Japan and other neighbors in this process.”
So far, the only athletes that have qualified under IOC regulations are Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik, a pair of figure skaters. As the Associated Press notes, the IOC could extend North Korean athletes a few invitational spots as a token of goodwill.