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S. Korean president invites N. Korea, world to PyeongChang Olympics in New York gala

2017/09/21 09:48

NEW YORK, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in put on his second hat Wednesday, inviting the world to the Winter Olympic Games to be held in his country early next year.

The honorary ambassador of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games also extended an invitation to North Korea, saying its participation will highlight the possibility of peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula.

"Tensions are high now, but that is only the reason why we more need peace," the South Korean leader said in a special event in New York aimed at the upcoming international sporting event to be held in PyeongChang, located some 180 kilometers east of Seoul.

"If the South and the North can join together at a time like this, it will be a great opportunity to send a message of reconciliation and peace to the world," he added.

It was not the first time Moon extended an invitation to the communist state to take part in the upcoming event, but the latest invitation follows the North's sixth and apparently most powerful nuclear test staged Sept. 3.

Moon said he will not give up on his efforts to bring North Korea to the international event, which he earlier said could serve as the start of a change in the way the reclusive regime behaves.

"Together with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), we will try until the very last minute with patience. It is not an easy way, but one South Korea must take," he said.

In an earlier meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach here on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the South Korean president said the North's participation in the PyeongChang Games will further ensure the safety of all taking part, suggesting the communist will refrain from any provocations at least during the event.

But even without the North's participation, the event will be the safest one to be held, he insisted.

"As you may know, South Korea is one of the countries that are most safe from terrorism. No international terrorist incident has taken place so far for racial or religious issues," Moon said.

"Also, South Korea has vast experience and capacity (in hosting international events). The country has successfully hosted many large-scale international events under complete safety, including the 1988 Seoul Olympics hosted in the midst of the Cold War, the 2002 Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup, the 2003 Summer Universiade, the 2010 Group of 20 summit and the 2011 World Championships in Athletics," he added.

"The PyeongChang Olympics will be the most exemplary Olympic Games in terms of safety, operation and all other aspects."

   Earlier, the South Korean president proposed the two Koreas form a unified team for the upcoming Olympic Games in South Korea.

During the opening ceremony at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, the athletes of North and South Korea entered the stadium together behind the Korean Unification Flag.

The South and North Korea remain divided and technically at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

bdk@yna.co.kr

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