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NORTH KOREA

Russians back Swiss role to defuse Korea tensions

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that he backed the idea of Switzerland hosting six-nation talks in an effort to defuse tensions over North Korea.

"As far as I understand, Switzerland is ready to offer its hospitable land for the conduct of six-party negotiations, in the hopes that they are held. Lavrov told reporters after meeting with his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter.

"We are not against this idea,"

The talks, involving North and South Korea, China, Russia, the United States and Japan, have been frozen since 2009 after North Korea pulled out in reaction to United Nations sanctions over its missile programme.
   
There were six separate rounds between 2003 and 2007, however, and 
Switzerland last week offered help as tensions soar on the Korean peninsula.
   
Neutral Switzerland has five members of its military deployed on the 
armistice line between the two Koreas, as part of a commission of non-aligned countries monitoring a ceasefire dating back to the Korean War of the 1950s.
   
It also has a liaison office in Pyongyang, capital of communist North Korea.

   
The tightly-controlled nation's current leader Kim Jong-un — the third in 
a dynasty of strongman leaders — spent several years in school in Switzerland under the guise of an embassy driver's son.

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SOUTH KOREA

Switzerland’s biggest ever Winter Olympics team will compete in South Korea

Switzerland are sending their biggest ever Winter Olympics team to Pyeongchang for the Games that start on February 9th, the country's Olympic Committee said on Monday.

Switzerland's biggest ever Winter Olympics team will compete in South Korea
Ski jumper Simon Ammann. Photo: Grott, Vegard Wivestad/NTB Scanpix/AFP
Four-time Olympic ski-jump champion Simon Ammann and Sochi 2014 downhill bronze medallist Lara Gut are among the 171 athletes heading to South Korea.
   
Moscow-born Iouri Podladtchikov will try to defend his halfpipe snowboarding title having won the inaugural gold medal in that discipline four years ago.
   
Switzerland have set their athletes a target of matching the 11 medals they won in Sochi.