November 29, 2018 / 4:32 AM / 11 days ago

Olympics - Bach says IOC committed to aiding Korean peace efforts

TOKYO (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee remains committed to helping the Korean Peninsula find lasting peace with its chief Thomas Bach praising the role his organisation and the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics had in easing tensions.

FILE PHOTO: Thomas Bach, President of the IOC, watching the Breaking event on a visit to the The Youth Olympic Games, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday 10th October 2018. Jonathan Nackstrand for OIS/IOC/Handout via REUTERS

Held at the South Korean resort in February, the Winter Games were seen as a turning point in relations between the neighbours, who are still technically at war, after a unified Korean team competed in women’s ice hockey.

As their relationship continues to thaw, the Koreas agreed in September to pursue a bid to co-host the 2032 Summer Games.

Speaking at the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Tokyo on Thursday, Bach said the IOC would be involved in further discussions to “strengthen peace efforts”.

“We have committed ourselves to this,” the German said.

“At the very beginning of next year, there will be new talks to get together with the two NOCs of the Korean states and the two governments, to see what we can do there to strengthen these peace efforts that are underway on the political level now.”

Relations between the nations have greatly improved this year, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in meeting his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un at three different summits.

“I refer to President Moon from the Republic of Korea, who has said that we have opened the door to peace talks with our initiatives on the Korean Peninsula and who has that there the IOC deserves a lot of credit for this,” Bach added.

“His counterpart in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Chairman Kim Jong Un, has said that these Olympic Games shifted the momentum of the North-South Korean relations and that this was totally attributable to the efforts of the IOC.”

North Korea has for years pursued nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. sanctions but the neighbours moved to defrost relations this year.

Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to work towards denuclearisation at their landmark June summit in Singapore, but the agreement was short on specifics.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by John O'Brien

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