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North Korea cancels visit to prepare for Olympics in South - ministry

Women watch the Olympic torch relay under a giant banner depicting the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics mascot Soohorang, in Seoul, South Korea, January 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

(Reuters) - North Korea has canceled the planned visit of a delegation to South Korea to prepare for a trip by an art troupe during next month's Winter Olympics, South Korean authorities said on Friday.

The North did not give a reason for the cancellation, the Unification Ministry said. It said a seven-member team had been scheduled to visit on Saturday to check venues for the performances.

It was unclear whether the cancellation cast any doubt over the preparations for the North's participation in the Winter Olympics in South Korea's Pyeongchang, an apparent diplomatic breakthrough after months of high tension over the North's nuclear and missile program.

North Korean Olympic officials arrived in Switzerland on Thursday ahead of weekend talks at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to finalize Pyongyang's participation.

North Korean IOC member Chang Ung met the delegation. Asked whether he expected North Korea and South Korea to settle outstanding issues at Saturday's talks, he appeared optimistic. "Everything's fine,” he told Reuters.

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Soyoung Kim in Seoul; Writing by Andrew Roche; Editing by Kevin Liffey)