North Korea agreed to send athletes, a cheer squad and a delegation of high-ranking officials to next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea.  It's a big breakthrough after months of escalating tensions over the North's rapidly advancing nuclear and missile programs.

South Korea's vice unification minister Chun Hae-sung informed reporters of the development achieved at the at the border village of Panmunjom - just a few meters away from the spot where a North Korean soldier defected last year.  These were the first formal talks between North and South Korea in more than two years, and came despite a worsening of tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul's ally the United States. 

The breakthrough will allow the North to take part in the Winter games for the first time in eight years.  The government of South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in says North Korea will be less likely to conduct a nuclear or missile test during the Olympics if its athletes are competing in the South.

South Korea pushed ahead with other unity proposals, including suggesting that athletes from the two Koreas march together at the opening ceremony.  Seoul also proposed allowing reunions of families separated by the border between the countries.