South Korea to honor 2015 'comfort women' accord with Japan

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The heads of the two teams of negotiators came as no surprise.

Contact between the countries has resumed since the North Korean leader expressed hope during his New Year's Day address that a delegation from his country might participate in the Winter Games. Officials for the two countries are set to meet on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Monday, a working-level taskforce has been established to support the ministry's part in the talks.

During his visit to Korea in June past year, Bach described a unified inter-Korean team as being "in the spirit of Olympism", and stated that the International Olympic Committee had invited North Korea to the games in February.

"Moon has talked about being "in the driver's seat" in inter-Korean affairs".

Whether Tuesday's talks lead to anything beyond the skaters' participation in the Olympics is up to the North Korean leader.

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This latest thaw was initiated when, in a New Year's speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he was willing to have dialogue with South Korea and could send representatives to the upcoming Winter Olympics.

His comments came as US President Donald Trump went a step further and said he was open to holding direct talks with Kim under certain conditions. The annual event helps maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula. "Considering that a variety of channels will be necessary if we assume that the Unification Ministry will be taking the lead in inter-Korean talks moving forward, I think they took the right approach to appointing people [to the negotiating teams]", said Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute. "But it seems obvious who is leading whom by the nose", the Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's largest newspaper and an influential conservative voice, wrote in a sharply worded editorial.

While it is possible that the two Koreas will agree on the North's participation in the Olympics, they are likely to differ sharply over other issues relating to how to improve ties.

"As far as the participation of athletes from the National Olympic Committee of DPRK in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 is concerned, the IOC has been having discussions with both sides for a long time", the spokesman said. CPRF Director Hwang Chung-song is expected to be the counterpart of Ahn Mun-hyeon, deputy director general of the Office of the Prime Minister.

South Korea will announce Tuesday its position on a deal with Japan over "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels, the Foreign Ministry said, an agreement meant to "finally and irreversibly" settle the issue when adopted two years ago.