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(LEAD) N. Korea's sports minister in Japan for Olympics-related session

Diplomacy 17:30 November 27, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES lead paras with arrival; CHANGES headline, dateline)

TOKYO, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's sports minister arrived in Tokyo on Tuesday to attend a meeting on the Olympics, local media reported.

Kim Il-guk, who also serves as the president of the communist nation's Olympic Committee, plans to join the two-day session of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) to open here on Wednesday.

The Japanese government allowed him to enter the country as an "exception" to far-reaching sanctions against Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Speaking at a press briefing, Suga cited the spirit of international sport that prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality, Japan's Kyodo news service reported.

Kim flew into Tokyo via Beijing as there's no direct flight between North Korea and Japan.

North Korea's Sports Minister Kim Il-guk (C) arrives in Beijing on Nov. 24, 2018, on his way to Tokyo for an Olympics-related session. (Yonhap)

It remains unclear whether Kim will have any separate talks with Japanese officials on bilateral relations amid speculation about a possible summit between the North's leader Kim Jong-un and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The ANOC's General Assembly session is expected to bring together more than 1,300 officials, including Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee.


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