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Gov¡¯t to set up Panmunjom meeting place for reunions

Posted January. 18, 2001 20:00,   


Unification Minister Park Jae-Kyu said Thursday that the government is discussing with North Korea the possibility of setting up a meeting place for inter-Korean reunions by elderly Koreans at Panmunjom and another at Mt. Kumgang for younger reunion participants.

He said that the government would continue to discuss the issue with the North until a permanent meeting place can be set up after completion of restoration work on the Kyongui Railroad Line (Seoul-Shinuiju in the North).

Park made the remarks during a meeting with Kim Joong-Kwon, chairman of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), at party headquarters in Yoido.

In the second Red Cross talks last year, the South proposed holding one-day reunions at the proposed meeting place in Panmunjom and longer reunions at Mt. Kumgang, where participants would have the chance to lodge together. The two sides failed to settle the issue owing to the North's insistence on holding reunions only at Mt. Kumgang.

A Unification Ministry official said it did not intend to set hard and fast rules as to who would qualify as an elderly reunion participant, saying age, physical condition and strength would be taken into account. The government¡¯s proposal thus indicates that the separated families might be given a choice of the two locations, he added.

Ha Tae-Won scooop@donga.com