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S. Korea welcomes N. Korea's willingness to join Winter Olympics

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- South Korea's presidential office on Monday welcomed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's expressed willingness to send athletes to next month's Winter Olympics in the South.

    Spokesman Park Soo Hyun also welcomed Kim's acknowledgement of the need for improved inter-Korean relations, saying President Moon Jae In's government remains willing to resume dialogue between the two Koreas "regardless of time, place or manner."

    Park said that if Winter Games in Pyeongchang are carried out successfully, becoming "Olympics of peace," that would contribute not only to peace on the Korean Peninsula, but also in Northeast Asia and in the rest of the world.

    Kim, in a nationally televised New Years address earlier in the day, said North Korea is open to talks with South Korea on his country's possible participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics, which will be held on Feb. 9-25.

    It is the first time that North Korea has expressed its willingness to take part in the upcoming winter games.

    Kim wished for the success of the event and said the two Koreas should improve relations as 2018 is a "year of significance" for both sides.

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