March 29, 2018 / 7:54 AM / 3 months ago

IOC chief Bach heads to North Korea: Yonhap

SEOUL, March 29 (Reuters) - International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach travelled to Pyongyang on Thursday, Yonhap news agency reported, a visit that comes after North Korea's participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Games helped ease inter-Korean relations.

Bach took North Korea's state airline Air Koryo from Beijing Capital International Airport with 10 other IOC officials, South Korea's Yonhap said.

Bach told Reuters during the Feb. 9-25 Winter Olympics that he would make the visit on the North's invitation as part of an agreement between the IOC and both North and South Korea.

Athletes from North and South Korea marched under a unified peninsula flag at the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang and the two Koreas have experienced a significant thaw in tensions since the Winter Olympics.

Bach's itinerary in Pyongyang remains unclear but his visit comes amid a flurry of international outreach by North Korea.

After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a surprise visit to Beijing this week -- his first known trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011 -- his engagement with the international community has sparked speculation that he may try to meet other leaders ahead of the summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and United States President Trump.

Japan's Asahi newspaper said on Thursday Japan had sounded out North Korea about a bilateral summit.

South Korea's Unification Ministry announced Thursday that the two Korea had set a date to hold their first summit in more than a decade on April 27.

The two Koreas are technically still at war after the 1950-1953 conflict ended with a ceasefire, not a peace agreement.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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