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1ST LEAD North Korean leader praises IOC for 'dramatic thawing' on peninsula By dpa correspondents

Europe, Europa
31.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Seoul (dpa) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un praised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its role in helping bring about a "dramatic thawing season" on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea‘s state media reported on Saturday.

North Korea also agreed to participate in the next two Olympics - the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing - according to IOC president Thomas Bach, who was in Pyongyang meeting with North Korean officials, including Kim.

Kim met with Bach on Friday and thanked him for the "special attention" the IOC paid to the North Korean athletes who participated in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February, the official North Korean news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.

Kim said that "the once frozen north-south relations greeted a dramatic thawing season" that was "totally attributable to the efforts of the IOC," according to KCNA.

Twenty-two North Korean athletes participated in last month‘s Winter Olympics, including 12 on a unified Korean women‘s ice hockey team.

The IOC chief‘s visit came amidst a flurry of diplomatic outreach by the typically reclusive east Asian country.

Last week, North Korea‘s leader met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Kim‘s first known trip outside of North Korea since the death of his father Kim Jong Il in 2011.

It was also the first time he had met Xi.

Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In are scheduled to meet in a rare summit on April 27 in the Peace House on the southern side of the border village of Panmunjom, Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea‘s leader is also expected to hold an unprecedented meeting with US President Donald Trump before the end of May.

Trump last week expressed optimism about efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and said he was looking forward to meeting Kim, though he has also said that "maximum sanctions and pressure" must be maintained on North Korea.

The IOC chief arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday and met with North Korean Sports Minister Kim Il Guk on Friday. Bach was reportedly set to leave North Korea on Saturday.

 

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