North Korea to participate in Asian Games in South Korea: Reports

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea will participate in all events at the Asian Games to be hosted in South Korea's western port city of Incheon later this year, reports said on Monday.

North Korean officials told South Korean reporters that preparations are under way to compete in all events at the so-called Asiad games, according to pooled media reports from the current reunion of families divided by the Korean War.

South Korea has invited North Korea to participate in the games, which will run from September 19 to October 4, through the Olympic Council of Asia, a body that governs all sports in Asia.

But there has been no formal confirmation of participation yet from North Korea's rulers.

The North boycotted the 1988 Olympics hosted by Seoul but sent athletes and cheerleaders for the 2002 Asian Games in South Korea's southern port city of Busan.

The first family reunion for more than three years is under way at at a mountain resort in North Korea, raising hopes of greater North-South cooperation.

North Korea had originally threatened to cancel if the South and the United States pushed ahead with annual joint military drills that began on Monday.

In an apparent goodwill gesture, Seoul last week approved the shipment by two private aid groups for close to US$1 million (S$1.27 million) worth of tuberculosis medicine and powdered milk to North Korea.

On Monday, South Korea offered to send vaccine and medical equipment to help contain an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the North.

The offer came days after the North confirmed cases of the highly contagious livestock disease at a pig farm in a suburb of Pyongyang.