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U.S. opposes South Korea funding for North Korea Olympians

North Korea could send its national team to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea, but Washington opposes Seoul funding its participation, according to a South Korean press report. File Photo by Yonhap

The United States is opposed to any move by the South Korean government to extend financial support to the North Korean national team during the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, according to a South Korean press report.

A senior Trump administration official who spoke to the Segye Ilbo said a Seoul decision to provide monetary support to North Korean athletes would be opposed because it would violate the spirit of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang.

The report comes at a time when speculation is rising in Korea over whether Seoul would be sending a cruise ship to transport the North Korean national team to the Olympics, which, according to Yonhap, may have been suggested by Choi Moon-soon, governor of South Korea's Gangwon Province, during an international youth football tournament in Kunming, China.

Segye Ilbo's unnamed U.S. government source said that while Seoul should not fund the North Korean visit, the Trump administration is not opposed to postponing joint military exercises that are held annually in February.

Late Thursday South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump agreed to delay the joint military drills during the Winter Games, after a phone call.

Segye Ilbo's source also said the participation of the North Korean team in the Winter Games is not an issue for the United States, but it is important Seoul not pledge to bear any part of the costs.

The source pointed out South Korea provided about $5 million of support to North Korea during the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000 and more than $1 million to fund an inter-Korea cooperation fund during the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

Private funding would not be an issue, the Trump administration official added.

The cruise ship plan, if carried out, would mean the North Korean team would dock at the port city of Sokcho, according to Yonhap.

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