The U.N. committee on North Korea sanctions on Thursday granted a North Korean official a temporary exemption to attend the Winter Olympics in South Korea, it was confirmed by a Security Council diplomat.
The decision came in response to a request by South Korea on Wednesday. The 15-member panel had until 3 p.m. Thursday to approve or reject the request.
Choe Hwi, chairman of North Korea's National Sports Guidance Committee, is subject to a travel ban and assets freeze under a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted June 2 to expand the number of individuals and entities who are held accountable for the North's nuclear program.
"Any moves that would contribute to the peace process are welcome," Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters, referring to the North Korean high-level presence at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
Moscow, along with Beijing, has been traditionally more reticent to impose harsh sanctions on the reclusive country and is more inclined to push for dialogue in efforts to solve the long-standing instability on the Korean Peninsula.
Another member of the high-level delegation, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department last year, but not by the United Nations. She is the first vice director of the ruling party's Propaganda and Agitation Department.
Also attending as part of the group is Ri Son Gwon, the head of the Committee for Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, a state agency in charge of handling inter-Korea affairs.
They are making a three-day visit to the South starting from Friday.
The sanctions committee is made up of experts from each of the 15 current members of the Security Council, including the five permanent seat holders -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.