North Korean withdraws request for ferry fuel

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says North Korea has withdrawn a request that the South provide fuel to a North Korean ferry that transported more than a 100 artists for performances marking the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Friday that the Mangyongbong-92 will return to the North on Saturday.

The North Korean artists performed Thursday in Gangneung, a coastal city that will host the skating, hockey and curling events during the games, and are to perform again in Seoul.

South Korea says the artists will return to the North on Tuesday by a land route.

Providing fuel to the ferry would have been a difficult decision for Seoul because of concerns that North Korea is trying to use the Olympics to poke holes in international sanctions against the country over its nuclear and missile programs.

South Korea treated the ferry as an exception to maritime sanctions it imposed on the North so it could transport the artists to the South.