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N Korea to send cheerleaders to Incheon Asian Games

North Korea said on Monday it would send a cheerleading squad to the coming Asian Games in South Korea, in an apparent goodwill gesture following a recent series of missile tests.

SEOUL: North Korea said on Monday it would send a cheerleading squad to the coming Asian Games in South Korea, in an apparent goodwill gesture following a recent series of missile tests.

A government statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency said the despatch of the cheering delegation for the September 19-October 4 Asiad in Incheon would "help melt frozen North-South relations".

The North has sent such squads to the South before, most recently for the 2005 Asian Athletics Championships in Incheon, when one of the cheerleaders was Ri Sol-ju, now the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

The South's Unification Ministry said preparations would be made to host the North Korean athletes and the cheering squad.

North Korea announced in May that it had decided to send a team to the Incheon Asiad, despite inter-Korean tensions over joint South Korea-US military exercises.

Pyongyang boycotted the 1988 Olympics in Seoul but sent athletes and cheerleaders to the 2002 Asian Games in South Korea's southern port city of Busan.

Monday's announcement came after North Korea conducted a series of missile test firings into the Sea of Japan (East Sea), drawing protests from Tokyo and Seoul.

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