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Hand of friendship: North and South Korea will compete together at the Winter Olympics

They’ll be sending a joint ice hockey team and will march under a “unification flag”.

The South Korean delegation (left) and the  North (right) shake hands in the Demilitarised Zone.
The South Korean delegation (left) and the North (right) shake hands in the Demilitarised Zone.
Image: AP/PA Images

NORTH AND SOUTH Korea will march together at the opening ceremony of next month’s Winter Olympics.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry says athletes from the two Koreas will march together under a “unification flag” when the games open in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The nations have also agreed to field a single women’s ice hockey team, the first time they’ll send a joint team to the Olympics.

The measures require approval by the International Olympic Committee and follow a flurry of cross-border talks.

Following a working-level meeting held at the truce village of Panmunjom, both sides have confirmed the news according to the Yonhap agency.

A North Korean delegation will visit the South next week to review the facilities at the Games venue, Yonhap reported.

South Korea also agreed to send its athletes to the North’s Masikryong ski resort for training ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics that begin on 5 February.

North Korea’s Olympic delegation, athletes, cheering squad, taekwondo delegation and reporters will travel by land through Kaesong, which lies on the main road from Pyongyang to Seoul.

Nuclear-armed Pyongyang agreed last week to send athletes, high-level officials, performers and others to the Pyeongchang Games, taking place just 80 km south of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the peninsula.

Seoul has long sought to proclaim the event a “peace Olympics” in the face of tensions over the North’s weapons programmes — which have seen it subjected to multiple UN Security Council sanctions — and the discussions represent a marked improvement.

Three officials from each side took part and the results will be discussed by both Koreas with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday.

The IOC must approve extra Olympic slots for the North’s athletes after they failed to qualify or missed deadlines to register.

© – AFP 2018 with reporting by Associated Press

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