N. Korea's ceremonial head of state to visit South: Seoul
ADEK BERRY (POOL/AFP/File)
North Korea's ceremonial head of state will visit the South this week in connection with the Winter Olympics, Seoul said late Sunday.
The trip by Kim Yong-Nam will be the diplomatic high point of the rapprochement between the two Koreas triggered by the Pyeongchang Games in the South, which have their opening ceremony on Friday.
Tensions spiraled 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, it 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 in 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.
It will be led by Kim Yong-Nam, who is leader of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, the North's ruling-party-controlled parliament, Seoul's unification ministry said in a statement.
Kim -- who is not a close blood relative of leader Kim Jong-Un -- will arrive on Friday for a three-day visit, accompanied by three other officials and 18 support staff, the ministry said it had been told by Pyongyang.
The South Korean ministry did not explicitly say whether Kim would attend the Pyeongchang opening ceremony.
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