Tuesday 21 October 2014

North Korea proposes talks on plans to send athletes to Asian Games

Published 10/07/2014 | 10:25

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the newly constructed Kalma Foodstuffs Factory
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the newly constructed Kalma Foodstuffs Factory
In this Tuesday, July 8, 2014 image made from video, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, visits Kumsusan Palace of the Sun to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of its first leader, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim seemed to have somehow hurt his leg enough to require a slight, but visible, limp as he marched across the stage Tuesday to assume his position of honor. He limped again as he left the room when the event was over. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video) TV OUT, NORTH KOREA OUT
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. (AP Photo/KRT via AP Video)

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.

Press Association

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