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Seoul: N. Korea to send No. 2 in rare visit south

/ 09:16 AM October 04, 2014
North Korean soccer fans wave their national flag and watch the final match played between North and South Korea at the 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014.  The man seen as North Korea's No. 2 and other senior officials plan to travel to the South on Saturday for the close of the Asian Games sporting event, South Korean officials said, a rare visit by Pyongyang's inner circle that will include a meeting with Seoul's top official for North Korean affairs. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

North Korean soccer fans. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

SEOUL, South Korea— The man seen as North Korea’s No. 2 and other senior officials plan to travel to the South on Saturday for the close of the Asian Games sporting event, South Korean officials said, a rare visit by Pyongyang’s inner circle that will include a meeting with Seoul’s top official for North Korean affairs.

After months of tensions, including an unusual number of missile and rocket test firings, expectations for any breakthrough will be low, but even the visit itself is significant. It will be a rare opportunity for high-level officials from the bitter rivals to hold face-to-face talks.

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The North Koreans will be led by Hwang Pyong So, the top political officer at the Korean People’s Army and considered by many outside analysts to be the country’s second most important official after leader Kim Jong Un.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the North Koreans would meet with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

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Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong Cheol told reporters Saturday that the North Korean officials plan to hold talks with South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae before flying back to the North later Saturday. It wasn’t clear what they would talk about.

The other North Korean officials, Lim said, are Choe Ryong Hae and Kim Yong Gon, secretaries to the ruling Workers’ Party.

Besides the North Korean test firings of rockets and missiles, both sides have leveled harsh criticism at each other, with North Korean state media calling the South Korean president a prostitute.

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TAGS: Asian Games, North Korea, Seoul, South Korea, Sports
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