IOC to Convene North Korean Summit

(ATR) Also: U.S delegation to be led by Pence; South Korean President hopes PyeongChang is springboard to peace.

The Olympic rings are seen above the entrance on the facade of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, on December 7, 2016. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
The Olympic rings are seen above the entrance on the facade of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, on December 7, 2016. / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

(ATR) Four party talks in Lausanne will sort out the details of the North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.

The IOC says talks will be held on Jan. 20 in Lausanne.

The nature of the talks will determine "the number and names of athletes and officials from the NOC of [North Korea]," who will attend PyeongChang 2018. The composition of a potential delegation is complicated by number of United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea.

The IOC must also "decide on the format of participation, including questions related to the official protocol" for North Korean athletes. Protocols for North Korean athletes competing in South Korea are not unprecedented, and PyeongChang 2018 told Around the Rings it has been reviewing potential protocols with the South Korean ministry of unification.

IOC members Ung Chang from North Korea and Seung Min Ryu from South Korea will participate in the talks. They will be joined by PyeongChang 2018 officials, as well as the president of the North and South Korean National Olympic Committees. Government officials from both countries will round out the four-party talks. President Thomas Bach will chair the meeting, the IOC says.

"I warmly welcome the joint proposals by the governments of the ROK and DPRK, which have been applauded by so many other governments worldwide," Thomas Bach, said in a statement. "This is a great step forward in the Olympic spirit and in the spirit of the Olympic Truce Resolution passed by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Now the IOC must take the decisions to make this political commitment a reality."

So far only a pair of North Korean figure skaters has qualified for PyeongChang 2018. However, North Korea missed a key deadline of registering the pair with the International Skating Union.

Whether the pair will compete in PyeongChang is up to the IOC, says the ISU. The federation said it welcomed talks between North and South Korea in a statement, and the pair of figure skaters "met all the necessary technical requirements to participate" in PyeongChang.

"In the case of a formal [North Korean] request for a late entry, the matter would have to be referred to the IOC for a final decision relating to the late entry as well as the increase of participants in the 2018 Olympic Pair Skating competition," the ISU statement said.

U.S. Delegation Led By Pence

Vice President Mike Pence will lead the United States delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics.

President Donald Trump confirmed Pence’s attendance on a 30-minute phone call with South Korean President Jae In Moon today, according to a readout from the Blue House. Previously, Trump had promised a "high level" delegation, but his administration had not announced any details. Reports emerged suggesting Trump’s daughter Ivanka or First Lady Melania Trump would attend the Games.The rest of the delegation has yet to be disclosed.

The designation of the vice president to lead the delegation falls in line with the previous Olympic Games. Vice President Joe Biden attended the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympics, and First Lady Michell Obama attended the 2012 Summer Olympics.

In his call with Moon, Trump said "At appropriate times and circumstances, the United States is open if North Korea wants to talk".

The leaders discussed how "inter-Korean dialogue will go beyond North Korea's participation in the PyeongChang Olympics and naturally lead to a dialogue between the two Koreas for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," according to the readout.

The call came after President Moon gave his New Year’s speech and press conference to South Korean and international journalists. The press conference was significant for its length and lack of pre-selected questions.

In his speech Moon called the beginnings of inter-Korean dialogue "only a beginning". He stressed the importance of a successful 2018 Winter Olympics, and its ramifications for the future of the Korean Peninsula. To do so, the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula must be solved so PyeongChang can be "a turning point toward an improvement in inter-Korean relations".

"If peace begins in PyeongChang, I will turn it into a stable system that takes root," Moon said. "To solve the North Korean nuclear issue and settle peace, I will pursue more dialogue and cooperative projects.

"I stress once again; the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a process toward peace and a goal at the same time. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which was declared by the two Koreas, is our fundamental position that can never be compromised."

Written by Aaron Bauer

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