North Korea proposes talks on plans to send athletes to Asian Games
Published 10/07/2014 | 10:25
North Korea has proposed talks on its plans to send athletes and cheerleaders to the Asian Games in South Korea.
Pyongyang has said its participation in the Asian Games scheduled from September 19 to October 4 in the South Korean city of Incheon would promote reconciliation between the rivals.
It has also suggested other measures that it says would ease tension, such as the cancellation of regular South Korea-US military drills that it calls an invasion rehearsal.
South Korea has rejected the proposals saying the North must first take steps toward nuclear disarmament.
Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said the North proposed a meeting at a border village next Tuesday to discuss its Asian Games participation.
South Korea's unification ministry said it is reviewing the North's offer.
There are doubts in South Korea over how sincere the North is about its push to reduce tension.
North Korea has been conducting a series of missile and other weapons tests in recent weeks, including two Scud-type short-range ballistic missile launches yesterday, according to South Korean officials.
Pyongyang's state media said today that leader Kim Jong Un inspected tactical rocket firing drills in a probable reference to yesterday's reported ballistic launches.
He was quoted as saying that North Korea should be prepared for "both words and actions".
Outside analysts say the North wants to improve ties with South Korea and the US to help lure foreign investment and aid to revive its stagnant economy.
The two Koreas share the world's most heavily armed border since their war in the early 1950 ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, both in Seoul, but attended the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, the 2003 University Games in Daegu and the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon.
In all three events, the North dispatched cheering squads, mostly comprising young women - called an "army of beauties" in South Korea - which often received more attention than the country's athletes.