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Analyst: Olympics help open dialogue between South, North Korea

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Prague, Feb 10 (CTK) – The Pyeongchang Olympic Games that started on Friday helped open a dialogue between South and North Korea, but North Korea cannot be expected to give up its nuclear programme, Czech political analyst Marketa Bejgerova has told CTK.

The warming of the relations will also depend on the U.S. position, said Bajgerova, from the Institute of International Relations in Prague.

The talks about the Olympics held in the demarcation line area in January were the first personal negotiations that have been held since 2015, she said.

She said the communication is difficult also because North Korea is leading the talks in its propaganda style. The mere fact that both parts of the peninsula are leading a certain dialogue can be perceived as a diplomatic success,” Bajgerova said.

The representatives of the two countries agreed before the Olympic Games that their athletes would attend the opening ceremony under one flag and they formed a joint women’s ice hockey team.

Bajgerova said she considers it unlikely that any of the North Korean athletes would use the Olympics as an opportunity to flee their homeland. “The athletes and other members of the North Korean Olympic team are a cadre elite that probably does not consider an escape a realistic possibility,” she said.

“Even if somebody intended to flee, one must realise that all have their families and relatives in North Korea who would suffer the consequences of such an escape,” she added.

Bajgerova said a slight warming of the relations can be seen, even though North Korea organised a military parade one day before the opening of the Olympics. According to available sources, this parade was markedly more moderate than those in the past both in its length and its scale, she said.

The parade aimed at the domestic audience to reassure the people that the participation in the Olympics does not mean that the regime was losing strength, Bajgerova said, adding that the parade did not seem to be a gesture for the international community.

The participation of Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in the opening ceremony is also a step forward, Bajgerova said. “She has been the first direct descendant od the Kim dynasty that officially entered South Korean territory,” she said.

She also pointed to the fact that North Korean parliament head Kim Yong-nam was made a top figure in the Olympic delegation. “He is considered a diplomat who is not directly connected with the North Korean nuclear programme. Moreover, he is not in included in the international black lists, unlike many other official representatives of North Korea,” she said.

It will also be the United States that will influence how the dialogue between the two countries will be developing after the Olympics, Bajgerova said.

With U.S. President Donald Trump, the tension between North Korea and the USA has considerably increased.

It would be naive to expect North Korea to immediately stop its nuclear programme after the Olympics and the United States to stop insisting on the sanctions imposed on North Korea.

North Korea and South Korea still have not ended their armed conflict from 1950-53 and the border between their territories has been heavily guarded. Diplomatic contacts between them are minimal. In the Korean War, South Korea was supported by the United Nations, especially the USA, and North Korea was assisted by China and the Soviet Union.

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