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Polite North Koreans Regret Withdrawal From Women?s Soccer Tournament
World Peace Herald
Seoul, Korea
October 17, 2006

Article from the World Peace Herald

Using unusually polite terms, North Korea has sent a formal letter of regrets to the organizers of an international women's soccer tournament scheduled to be played in South Korea next week.

North Korea was invited but had not been expected to participate, particularly in the midst of international tensions following its testing of a nuclear device on Oct. 9, according to a report by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Organizers were surprised to receive an unusual formal written expression of regrets from North Korea, according to the report.

The envelope containing the letter was addressed to the head of the organizing committee of the soccer event, but the letter itself was addressed to Rev. Sun Myung Moon of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, whose organization is sponsoring the event, the report said.

The letter thanked the organizers for "dedicating your utmost sincerity in an effort to guarantee the success" of North Korea's possible participation.

The letter went on to ask for the organizers' understanding for North Korea's decision not to participate, and said, "We expect that events such as this for the sake of peace and national unity will continue, and we take this opportunity to strongly affirm that we will participate in projects for the sake of reconciliation, unity and unification among the [Korean] people," according to the Yonhap report.

The letter was sent by the (North) Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which has been Pyongyang's main contact point for non-governmental exchanges with organizations in the South.

It was quite unusual for North Korea to decline such an invitation in a formal written notice, the spokesman for the organizers told Yonhap.

The tournament, the Peace Queen Cup, is scheduled to be played from Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, with teams from eight countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, South Korea and United States.

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