IOC chief arrives in Pyongyang

International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach (on the right) was met at Pyongyang airport by Kim Il Guk, North Korea's Minister of Physical Culture and Sports who is also chairman of the country's Olympic committee
AFP

Pyongyang (AFP) – International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday, in the latest in a flurry of diplomacy for North Korea in the wake of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Bach was met at the airport by Kim Il Guk, North Korea’s Minister of Physical Culture and Sports, who is also chairman of the country’s Olympic committee.

The IOC said Bach’s trip would last until March 31, and came on the heels of an invitation extended by Pyongyang in January.

“The discussions will focus on the further development of sport in the DPRK after the successful participation of athletes at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018,” the IOC said, using the abbreviation of North Korea’s official name.

Last month’s Games triggered a dramatic rapprochement with the isolated North, which sent athletes, cheerleaders and officials to take part.

Competitors from the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony, where South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with the sister of the North’s leader Kim Jong Un.

The two countries also fielded a joint women’s ice hockey team.

Pyongyang and Seoul have since agreed to hold a summit next month, and Kim made his first foreign trip as leader this week to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A summit has also been mooted between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Bach has hailed the reconciliatory mood, saying previously that the Olympic spirit “brought two sides together” and the two neighbours sent a “powerful message of peace” to the world.

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