Oct. 8 (UPI) — The United Nations has granted sanctions waivers for equipment to be brought into North Korea for next week’s inter-Korean World Cup qualifier in Pyongyang, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.
“We know that the issue of U.N. sanctions exemptions necessary for the game and athletes’ trips [to North Korea] were resolved last week in accordance with customary procedures,” the official told reporters.
The official, however, did not provide information on what and how many items have received U.N. sanctions exemptions.
North Korea is to host the World Cup qualifier between the two Koreas in Pyongyang on Oct. 15. Sports gear and equipment are among luxury goods subject to U.N. sanctions.
The official also said that North Korea has not responded to Seoul’s offer for talks on the issue of sending a cheering squad for the upcoming soccer match.
Any South Koreans seeking to visit North Korea should receive invitations from the North and also the Seoul government’s approval for their trips to the communist state.
On Monday, unification ministry spokesperson Lee Sang-min told reporters that it appears difficult to send a cheering squad to Pyongyang for next week’s match.
How the players will travel to Pyongyang has not been decided yet, though it appears likely they will fly to the North’s capital via Beijing rather than using other transportation modes.
The official said that no discussions have been held between the two Koreas on the possibility of the use of a direct cross-border flight or land routes for transporting the players.
A source said that Seoul is currently considering sending a few government officials to handle administrative affairs for the players as it did in April 2017, when the AFC Women’s Asian Cup qualifying tournament was held in Pyongyang, but it added that they will not include high-ranking officials.
Observers hope that the game in Pyongyang could serve as a chance to bolster contact between the two Koreas at a time when cross-border exchanges have been mostly stalled amid a lack of progress in denuclearization talks.