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South Korea to stress safety of Pyeongchang Olympics to diplomats, companies

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South Korea to stress safety of Pyeongchang Olympics to diplomats, companies

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SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s foreign ministry will stress the Pyeongchang Olympics will be safe from North Korean provocations in a briefing to diplomats and executives at foreign companies in the country on Friday, as concerns persist over tensions with the North. Officials and executives from around 120 embassies and companies in South Korea will be hosted by the ministry to explain the government’s efforts for a safe Olympic Games scheduled for Feb. 9-25 next year, officials told Reuters. “We plan to actively explain the Olympics will be safe,” one official said. Officials from the United States, Japan, Russia and China, as well as members of chambers of commerce for Japan, China and Europe will attend, the foreign ministry said. An official at the Japanese chamber of commerce in South Korea told Reuters they were not specifically aware which companies were planning to attend as the ministry appears to have contacted businesses separately. In another statement, the ministry added the participants will be briefed on current events regarding North Korea and the Korean peninsula as well as preparations in general for the Pyeongchang Olympics. Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen in recent months as North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump exchanged threats and insults over the North’s nuclear and missile development programme. Concerns over safety grew in tandem as the Games will take place just 80 km (50 miles) from the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, the world’s most-heavily armed border. France’s Sports Minister Laura Flessel said last month that if the crisis in the region deepened and athletes’ security could not be guaranteed then they would not travel to the Games. Members of France’s Winter Olympics team, however, have remained optimistic the country will not boycott. Rattled by rising tensions with North Korea, South Korea has been taking extra measures to try to ensure the safety of the 2018 Winter Games, including setting up a crack cyber defence team and doubling the number of troops, according to officials and documents reviewed by Reuters. North and South Korea remain technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict with a truce and not a peace treaty.

(Reporting by Christine Kim; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)
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