S. Korean Asiad host vows to disperse 'conflict clouds'

SEOUL (AFP) - The 2014 Asian Games in South Korea will not be derailed by the "dark clouds of conflict" currently hovering over the Korean peninsula, according to the mayor of the host city Incheon.

North and South Korea have been in a state of heightened military tension since the North carried out its third nuclear test in February, raising concerns over the staging of the Asiad in September-October next year.

"The Korean peninsula seems shrouded by the dark clouds of conflict, something which worries many of us," Incheon Mayor Song Young Gil said this week, during a site visit by the Olympic Council of Asia.

"However, our determination to bring peace is stronger than ever before," Mr Song said.

"Just as the (1988) Seoul Olympics helped to tear down the wall of the Cold War, 2.9 million Incheon citizens and I are determined to make the Incheon Asian Games a peace festival to melt down all conflicts in Asia," he added.

North Korea's participation in the Games is still in question, although an Incheon municipal spokesman said there were "no signs" it planned to boycott the event.

The North had boycotted the 1988 Olympics.

Although the two Koreas compete separately at major sporting events, they have sometimes joined together in opening ceremonies such as the Sydney and Athens Olympiads in 2000 and 2004, and the Doha Asiad in 2006.

In recent years however, the North has insisted on marching separately.

The 17th Asian Games in Incheon will run from September 19 to October 4.