New York, Jan 24th, 2018: UN Secretary General António Guterres , was behind North Korea’s decision to attend this year’s winter Olympics in South Korea where delegations from the two nations _ who are technically at war _ will march for the first time under a unified flag, diplomats said.
Many here are hailing the breakthrough as Guterres’ first major diplomatic accomplishment after a little more than a year on he job.South Korean diplomats who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of negotiations said Guterres appealed to Kim Jung Un in a secret message personally delivered by Under Secretary General Jeffery Feltman during a visit to Pyongyang in early December.
They said that the message stressed the need for the North to attend the games and the desire that they be represented there by a large delegation.
UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said confirmed Feltman conveyed a message from Guterres but denied it was secret.Last week, Guterres said the UN is working hard to avoid a war over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, citing Feltman’s visit as an example of that engagement.
Arriving in South Korea Monday, the North’s Olympic delegation was met by dozens of protesters who set fire to an image of Kim Jung-un . While most South Koreans appear to support the “Olympic truce,” some conservatives have accused the government of appeasement over the effort which will also see athletes from both nations playing together on the women’s ice hockey team.
Last week, North Korea also said it would hold talks with the South on reducing front line tensions but that nuclear issues would only be addressed in talks with the United States.
U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres also plans to attend the games which will take place in Peyongchang South Korea from Feb. 9 to 25.