North Korea's Kim meets IOC chief in Pyongyang
SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un has met Olympics chief Thomas Bach in Pyongyang, thanking him for helping to bring about a "dramatic thawing" of tensions on the Korean peninsula, the country's state media said on Saturday, March 31.
Last month's Winter Olympics in South Korea triggered a fast-moving rapprochement that will see Kim sit down with the South's President Moon Jae-in in late April — with a US summit with President Donald Trump planned for May.
Bach arrived in the country on Thursday and his visit, which concluded Saturday, was the result of an invitation extended by Pyongyang in January.
The isolated, nuclear-armed regime rarely hosts foreign dignitaries but recent weeks have seen a flurry of diplomacy, with Kim making his first foreign trip as leader to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and inviting him to visit Pyongyang.
Kim told Bach that the Olympics – which saw competitors from the two Koreas march together at the opening ceremony and field a joint women's ice hockey team – "opened a new chapter of concord between the north and the south", the official KCNA news agency said.
"He said that the once frozen north-south relations greeted a dramatic thawing season with the Olympics as a momentum and it was totally attributable to the efforts of the IOC which offered an opportunity and paved a path for it," KCNA reported.
The two men held discussions about the development of sport in the North and attended a women's football match.
North and South Korea plan to hold a summit on April 27.
Trump is then due to meet Kim before the end of May for talks on Pyongyang's denuclearization.
Bach has hailed the reconciliatory mood, saying previously that the Olympic spirit "brought two sides together" and the two neighbors sent a "powerful message of peace" to the world. – Rappler.com
We keep you informed because you matter
We tell you the stories that matter. We ask, we probe, we explain.
But as we strive to do all this and speak truth to power, we face constant threats to our independence.
Help us make a difference through free and fearless journalism. With your help, you enable us to keep providing you with our brand of compelling and investigative work.
Joining Rappler PLUS allows us to build communities of action with you. PLUS members will receive our editorial newsletters and industry reports, get to join exclusive online conversations with our award-winning journalists, and be part of our monthly events.
Make your move now. Join Rappler PLUS.