30 April 2010

North Korea trip 'not finalised'

Zimbabwe on Friday appeared to back away from an announcement that North Korea's national team would train in the country ahead of the World Cup.

This follows protests over the Asian country's role in training an army unit accused of killing thousands of people.

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi last month announced the North Korean team would train in Zimbabwe.

But Sports Minister David Coltart said on Friday the visit had not been finalised.

"First of all, it has not been confirmed that they are coming at all.

"If they did come, clearly, we will handle it in a sensitive way that recognises the history and emotions around the matter," Coltart said.

The original announcement triggered protests from opposition groups in south-western Matabeleland provinces where rights groups say a North Korean-trained army unit killed an estimated 20,000 people during President Robert Mugabe's crackdown on an insurgency in the region in the 1980s.

Coltart declined to comment on reports that the government had changed initial plans to have the North Koreans set up camp in Bulawayo, the main city in Matabeleland.

"The issue is now being handled in cabinet, so it is premature for me to speculate on how their visit will be managed," Coltart said.

BBC Sport

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