IOC chief heads to Pyongyang: reports


Seoul (AFP)

International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach was seen taking a flight to the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Thursday, multiple reports said, in another diplomatic move on the peninsula after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Bach was seen at the Beijing airport before boarding an Air Koryo flight to Pyongyang Thursday afternoon, Yonhap news agency and other reports said, publishing a picture of him at the check-in counter.

"Bach's North Korea visit appears to be aimed at raising the IOC's profile after the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, and discussing the North's potential participation in international competitions," Yonhap quoted a Beijing diplomatic source as saying.

Last month's Games in the South triggered a dramatic rapprochement with the isolated North, which sent athletes, cheerleaders and officials to take part.

Competitors from the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremony, where South Korean President Moon Jae-in shook hands with the sister of the North's leader Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang and Seoul have since agreed to hold a summit next month, and Kim made his first foreign trip as leader this week to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A summit is also due between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

Bach has hailed the reconciliatory mood, saying previously that the Olympic spirit "brought two sides together" and the two neighbours sent a "powerful message of peace" to the world.