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Ice hockey: Seoul gives North Korea team green light to play

SEOUL (Reuters) - Seoul has given the North Korean women's ice hockey team the green light to take part in an international competition in the South next week, a Unification Ministry official said on Wednesday.

The International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) Women's World Championship Division II Group A will be held in Gangneung from April 2-8 and will be used as a test event for the ice hockey at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

North Korean athletes need approval from Seoul to enter the South as their 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically in a state of war.

The ministry official confirmed they had given the North Korean delegation approval on Tuesday and that the visit would take place from April 1-9. The delegation consists of 20 players and 10 coaches and other staffs, the official said.

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The ministry said the last visit by North Korean athletes was to take part in the Asian Games in Incheon in 2014.

Tensions on the peninsula are currently high, with South Korea on Friday saying the North was ready to carry out a new nuclear test.

North Korea said last year it had mastered the ability to mount a warhead on a ballistic missile and has been ratcheting up a threat that its rivals and the United Nations appear powerless to contain.

(Writing by Peter Rutherford; Reporting by Jeongeun Lee, Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

 
 
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