Olympic torch arrives in Seoul ahead of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games

Olympic torch arrives in Seoul ahead of 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games

North Korea has offered to send more than 200 cheerleaders to the Winter Olympics in the South and attend the Paralympics, Seoul said as the two Koreas met today to discuss athlete numbers in the latest in a flurry of cross-border talks.

On Monday it was also announced that Pyeongchang would welcome a 140-member North Korean pop orchestra to perform at the Games.

But they are the most prominent steps toward rapprochement achieved by the Koreas since they recently began exploring cooperation during the Olympics following a year of heightened tension over the North's nuclear weapons program.

The last time South Korea hosted the Olympics was in 1988; despite attempts to arrange for North Korea to participate, the regime didn't send any athletes to those games in Seoul.

The Koreas have been discussing fielding a joint women's hockey team and having their athletes march under a "unification flag" depicting the Korean Peninsula, instead of their respective national flags, during the opening ceremony for the February 9-25 Games in Pyeongchang.

The International Olympic Committee plans to separately meet North and South Korean officials this weekend to discuss the North's Olympic participation.

The Olympic bargain made by North and South Korea provided helpful political cover for all sides to ratchet down tensions without losing face or appearing to back down.

South Korean President Moon Jae In has repeatedly stressed that he wants the Pyeongchang Olympics to be a means for re-engagement and conflict resolution with the North, calling the Games the "Peace Olympics".

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday he believes war over North Korea's nuclear weapons is avoidable but he's anxious and "not yet sure that peace is guaranteed".

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The South's Unification Ministry said the two sides exchanged opinions on several issues, including the size of the North Korean athletics team and joint cultural events.

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during a meeting on North Korea in Vancouver, British Columbia, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.

M - About 200 young writers from 18 countries will gather in PyeongChang Jan. 19-22 for the 2018 PyeongChang Humanities Forum created to drum up interest in the Winter Olympics, which are set to open in the South Korean alpine town in February, Yonhap news agency reported citing organizers.

Hyon, believed to be in her 30s, has been a figure in North Korea's rumor mills for years. -South Korean military drills while inter-Korean talks continue, according to The Strait Times of Singapore. The North regularly threatens to destroy the South, Japan and their major ally, the United States.

When travelling overseas, however, North Korean athletes and coaches tend to cloister themselves away from outsiders when they are not competing or practicing.

Lee Yun Keol, a visiting research fellow at the Sejong Institute, said, "I expect North Korea has already demanded that the South Korean side provide a reward in return for sending a big art troupe".

Kim said South Korea's conservative media had "astounded the world" by publishing "disgusting slander which deride and insult the sincerity of the fellow countrymen".

The reasons for North Korea's softer approach are not clear, though some analysts say the North may be trying to divide Seoul and Washington as a way to weaken pressure and sanctions on the country.

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