SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea has invited North Korea to attend next year’s Asian Games in Incheon and expects its communist neighbour to appear at the multi-sports event, an official from Seoul’s sports ministry said on Tuesday.
North Korea attended the 2002 Asian Games in Busan but boycotted the 1986 Games in Seoul, as well as the 1988 Olympics in the South’s capital.
The 1950-53 conflict between the two countries ended in an armistice rather than a permanent peace treaty. Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang are tense and talks aimed at mending ties were recently called off.
“We have requested the participation of North Korea at the Incheon Asian Games through the OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) a couple of months ago,” Park Jong-gil, a vice minister at the culture, sports and tourism ministry, told reporters.
“The North has yet to make any response, but I expect to hear good news.”
Earlier this year, North Korea threatened nuclear and missile strikes against the South and the United States after it was hit with U.N. sanctions for a nuclear weapons test in February.
North Korea’s 30-year-old leader, Kim Jong-un, took power in December 2011 and has since carried out two long-range rocket launches and a nuclear weapons test, as well as a campaign of threats against South Korea and the United States.
Threats have waned in the past month, showing signs of easing tensions such as proposing talks with South Korea in early June. The talks had been intended to discuss issues resuming operations of joint commercial projects and families split during the Korean War.
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi, editing by Peter Rutherford