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South Korea leaves door open for North to attend Olympics

By Danielle Haynes
South Korea leaves door open for North to attend Olympics
North Korea marches in the athletes parade at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on August 5. South Korea said it would leave the door open for North Korea to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

July 24 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday said his country would leave the door open for North Korea to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Two hundred days before the start of the Games, Seoul reiterated its offer to allow a North Korean delegation to enter the country for the event.

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"I again urge North Korea's decision," Moon said. "We will not rush nor be pessimistic, but will keep the doors open until the very last moment."

Moon called on International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach to support his invitation to North Korea, saying would would foster peace in there region.

In June, Moon offered to form a single, unified team between the two countries for the Winter Games, which will be held Feb. 9-25.

Pyongyang has been silent on the offer.

"The International Olympic Committee too has opened the doors for North Korea's participation, and now all that is left is North Korea's decision," Moon said.

The city of Pyeongchang is located near the site of one of the fiercest battles that took place during the 1950-53 Korean War. The remains of veterans who lost their lives in the area are still being excavated.

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But the facilities that have been built for the Winter Olympics have transformed the area, and if Pyongyang chooses to send its athletes, a battlefield where North and South exchanged fire could become a stage of friendly competition and amicable exchange.

Elizabeth Shim contributed to this report.

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