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North Korea

North Korea is to send its highest ranking official for years to the South amid an easing of tensions during the Winter Olympics.

Kim Yong-nam, the ceremonial head of state, will lead a 22-member delegation to the South beginning on Friday, said the South's Unification Ministry.

The two Koreas' athletes will march under one flag at the opening ceremony.

The North's participation in the Games is widely seen as a diplomatic manoeuvre by Pyongyang.

It faces growing international pressure and sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes.

The united Korean women's ice hockey team played its first match on Sunday, but lost the friendly against Sweden 1-3.

They will get a chance to even the score when they face Sweden again during the Games.

Sunday's outing was the first and only practice match for the newly minted Korean squad.

Kim Yong-nam is the head of the parliament in the North and will be the highest-level official to visit South Korea in four years.

An unnamed official from the South's presidential Blue House told the BBC that they believe this reflected a willingness on the part of North Korea to improve inter-Korean relations, and demonstrated the North's sincerity.

Mr Kim will lead a delegation of three other officials and 18 support staff, the Unification Ministry said.

It did not say whether he would attend the opening ceremony of the Games in Pyeongchang, a county in the mountainous east of South Korea.

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