Two Koreas agree to hold talks on Asiad arrangements

Two Koreas agree to hold talks on Asiad arrangements
North Korean cheerers root for their team during the 2002 Asian Games in Busan.

SEOUL - The two Koreas will hold talks this week to discuss logistics arising from the North's decision to send a delegation of athletes and cheerleaders to the upcoming Asian Games, officials in Seoul said Monday.

The Asiad is to be held September 19-October 4 in the South Korean port city of Incheon.

Despite simmering cross-border tensions, the North announced in May it would send about 150 athletes to Incheon and last week announced they would be accompanied by a cheering squad.

Pyongyang also insisted that officials from the two sides meet in advance to sort out such issues as how the delegation will travel to the South and where they will stay.

Because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, the two Koreas technically remain at war, and official contact is minimal.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said that the North had accepted Seoul's offer to hold the talks on Thursday at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Cross-border ties have been icy for months and in recent weeks the North has conducted a series of missile tests into the Sea of Japan (East Sea), prompting protests from Seoul and Tokyo.

The last official talks between the two sides were in June to discuss management issues at their jointly-run Kaesong industrial complex.

Pyongyang has previously sent cheerleading squads - made up almost entirely of young women who perform synchronised dance moves - to three sporting events in the South including the 2002 Asian Games.

They were a huge draw in South Korea, and the squad that came for the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships included Ri Sol-Ju, who is now the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

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