SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK)"s President Moon Jae-in said on Monday a thaw in relations with Pyongyang ahead of next month"s Winter Olympics presented a "precious chance" to bring about talks between the United States and the Democratic People"s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over Pyongyang"s nuclear and missile programs.
After a year of mounting tension on the Korean Peninsula, diplomacy focused on sport enabled the International Olympic Committee to announce on Saturday that the DPRK will send 22 athletes to the Winter Games, being held on during Feb 9-25.
The Games are providing a "precious chance to open the door" for talks to resolve the nuclear issue and establish peace on the peninsula, Moon said at a meeting.
"But no one can be optimistic about how long the current mood for dialogue will last", he said.
"We need wisdom and efforts to sustain the dialogue opportunities ... beyond the Olympics so that the inter-Korean talks will lead to talks between the United States and North Korea and other forms of dialogue".
The DPRK agreed to send a large delegation, including athletes, cheerleaders and performers, to the ROK-hosted Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang.
Moon said the DPRK"s participation in the Games and the dialogue had a great significance as it will contribute to the success of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and to the ROK economy.
He asked ordinary people and the political parties to help the Winter Olympics succeed as the current dialogue mood is very hard to win.
Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to march together at an opening ceremony of the Games and field a unified women"s ice hockey team.
While a recent opinion poll showed most ROK citizens welcome the DPRK"s participation in the Games, conservative opponents staged a small rally as a DPRK delegation inspected venues in Seoul for cultural events to be held on the sidelines of the Olympics.
The DPRK delegation was led by Hyon Song-wol, a popular female singer, who smiled and waved to a crowd at the train station before the protest began.
"Seeing the citizens here welcoming us, I feel we will be able to successfully complete the concert," Hyon was quoted as saying by a Seoul official, according to a local media pool report.
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