North and South Korea begin high-level talks on Olympic Games

North and South Korea have begun high-level talks, the first between the countries in two years.

The meeting, at the Peace House in the truce village of Panmunjom, will focus on North Korea's possible participation in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, taking place in South Korea in February.

South Korea also said it would raise ways to improve inter-Korean relations.

Ties have become increasingly tense since the last talks in 2015.

Relations broke down after Seoul suspended a joint economic project at the Kaesong Industrial complex in North Korea following a rocket launch and nuclear test by the North.

The incident led to North Korea ending all communication with Seoul, including cutting off telephone lines. Tensions have risen in the years since as the North continues to rapidly advance its banned weapons programme.

Both sides are sending five-member delegations to the talks, who spoke to media ahead of the session.

"Today we'll engage in talks to discuss North Korea's participation in the Winter Olympics, as well as the improvement of inter-Korean relations," said Seoul's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon who is leading the delegation.

The North's delegation is led by Ri Son-gwon, the chairman of North Korea's state agency in charge of affairs with the South and a veteran negotiator.

Mr Ri told reporters: "Today, North and South Korea will engage in talks in a serious and sincere stance."

"They will go well," he said.

North Korean leadership expert Michael Madden told the BBC that we were seeing the "baby steps of incremental rapprochement".

"Both Koreas are proceeding cautiously, but what they would like to see happen is [the meeting] becoming a springboard for further contacts and interactions," North Korean leadership expert Michael Madden told the BBC.

The delegates are meeting in Panmunjom village that lies in the heavily guarded demilitarised zone (DMZ) and is where the two sides have historically held talks.