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South Korea Won't Meet North Without IOC Involved

September 17, 1987|RANDY HARVEY | Times Staff Writer

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Kim Chong Ha, president of the Korean Olympic Committee, said Wednesday he is not in favor of meeting with the North Korean Olympic Committee unless the International Olympic Committee also is involved.

Kim made his comments in response to a letter he received Monday from the North Korean Olympic Committee recommending a meeting either in Lausanne or in Pan Nun Jom, the demilitarized zone between the two countries.

It would be the fifth meeting since October, 1986, to discuss the extent of North Korea's involvement in the 1988 Summer Olympics, which have been awarded to Seoul, South Korea. But it would be the first without the IOC serving as a mediator.

"Matters concerning the Olympic Games belong to the IOC authority," said Kim, who arrived here Wednesday for an IOC executive board meeting.

"The best way is not to have a meeting between the South and the North directly."

Kim said he will discuss the issue today with IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who, sources said, suggested in a letter last week that the North Korean Olympic Committee request a direct meeting with the Korean Olympic Committee.

The sources said Samaranch believes a bilateral meeting between the two Olympic Committees might lead to further negotiations involving the IOC.

"He wants to keep the ball in the air as long as possible," a source said.

But that may not be part of South Korea's agenda.

"My position is clear," Kim said. "We have to have a meeting with the IOC, the South and the North. I don't agree to have a meeting directly with the North.

"There are many problems. These problems have to be solved with the IOC. Without the IOC, there can't be any solution.

"I'll go back to Seoul Sunday and send a letter to the North Koreans. I expect my position will be the same."

Asked what might be the purpose of a meeting with the North Koreans, Kim said: "I don't know their minds. I don't know their intentions."

As the mediator, the IOC has offered five events to North Korea--archery, table tennis, women's volleyball, a 100-kilometer cycling race and a preliminary round of soccer.

South Korea has accepted the proposal, but North Korea has not responded.

North Korean representatives said at the last meeting here in July that they want at least two more events as well as the entire soccer tournament. But Kim said Wednesday that five is the most events South Korea is willing to relinquish.

While reluctant to set a deadline, he also said he would like to see at least a tentative agreement within the next four months.

The IOC will mail invitations for the 1988 Summer Olympics to all 167 National Olympic Committees today, one year before the opening ceremony is scheduled in Seoul. The deadline for responding to the invitations is Jan. 17.

"This is taking too much time," Kim said of the negotiations. "If we don't hear from them by Jan. 17, they are not interested in reaching an agreement."

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