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Parliamentary speaker voices hopes for resolution of political conflicts through sports

2018/02/13 21:47

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SEOUL, Feb. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun expressed hopes Tuesday that sports will play a role in addressing political conflicts, during his dinner meeting with the joint team of South and North Korean taekwondo demonstrators.

The team has staged performances here in celebration of the Feb. 9-25 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The group of North Korean practitioners, led by Ri Yong-son, head of the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), is set to return home Thursday.

"It is not difficult to find cases of sports serving as a medium to overcome political conflicts and promote peace ... the ping pong diplomacy is a representative case," Chung said, referring to the exchange of table tennis players between the United States and China in the early 1970s, which led to a thaw in their ties.

"(I hope) taekwondo people will work to help usher in a new era of reconciliation and cooperation," he added.

Seoul has been seeking to use Pyongyang's participation in the Olympics in the South to boost momentum for inter-Korean dialogue and reconciliation, and pave the way for the resumption of denuclearization talks.

Squeezed by tough international sanctions, Pyongyang has also been holding out an olive branch to Seoul, a move which critics say is intended to weaken global unity in the enforcement of the sanctions and drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

During the dinner gathering, Ri said that he would work to promote unity and reconciliation among Koreans.

"I anticipate that the Olympics will proceed successfully in line with its noble spirits, and contribute to fostering the mood for reconciliation and unification among Koreans," Ri said.

South Korea's National Assembly Speaker, Chung Sye-kyun (L), and Ri Yong-son, head of the International Taekwondo Federation, clink glasses during a dinner meeting at Chung's official residence in Seoul on Feb. 13, 2018. (Yonhap) South Korea's National Assembly Speaker, Chung Sye-kyun (L), and Ri Yong-son, head of the International Taekwondo Federation, clink glasses during a dinner meeting at Chung's official residence in Seoul on Feb. 13, 2018. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr

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