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Sport brings the two sides together focusing on the participation of the North in next month's Winter Olympics in the South

 north south koreaDespite recent heightened tensions North and South Korea have begun their first high level talks for more than two years.

A huge media contingent watched the South Korean delegation on their way to the venue for the talks in the the Peace House in the truce village of Panmunjom.

Optimism on both sides was expressed at the outset with one delegate describing them as "baby steps" in the process of rapprochement.

World leaders are watching closely for any sign of a reduction in the tensions on the Korean peninsula. The meeting comes amid rising fears over North Korea's development of nuclear weapons in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

The focus of the discussions is North Korea's possible participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics which take place in South Korea next month.

The US State Department has said Pyongyang "might be trying to drive a wedge" between Washington and Seoul and weaken a US-led campaign to force North Korea to give up its development of nuclear-tipped missiles capable of hitting the United States.

President Donald Trump spent much of the past year deriding negotiations as useless and lobbing insults at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but recently Trump called the new talks "a good thing" and said they had been prompted by his "firm, strong" stance.

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