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Koreas to Hold Family Reunions Next Month

Posted August. 29, 2009 07:57,   


South and North Korea agreed yesterday to hold reunions for families separated by the Korean War from Sept. 26 through Oct. 1, the first such agreement in nearly two years.

Chief delegates of the two sides signed the agreement after a second session of talks at the North’s scenic resort area of Mount Kumgang, where the reunions will take place.

A hundred South Koreans will meet long-lost kin in the North Sept. 26-28, while the same number of North Koreans will do the same for three days from Sept. 29. Both sides will exchange lists of people wishing to meet relatives before setting the final candidates Sept. 17.

The Korean Red Cross in Seoul held a committee meeting yesterday afternoon to select 300 candidates from some 88,000 applicants via lottery. It will then ask the 300 to reconfirm their willingness to meet relatives in the North before short-listing them to 200 and asking Pyongyang to determine their relatives’ whereabouts.

An official at the South Korean Unification Ministry said the two Koreas agreed to include 20 relatives of South Korean abductees and prisoners of war being held in the North, as in the past. Fourteen South Korean abductees and 11 POWs in the North have seen their relatives in the South.

In the talks, Pyongyang initially rejected Seoul’s proposed venue, a hotel exclusively designed for the reunions, but accepted it at the last minute. Little progress was made, however, on the South’s proposal to hold family reunions for POWs and abductees on a regular basis.

Bilateral consultations will resume on humanitarian issues for improving inter-Korean relations. Thus, Seoul’s three major proposals – separation of family reunions from politics and fundamental resolutions to the matters of separated relatives, POWs and abductees – will be discussed in another round of talks.

The South’s chief delegate on the reunions, Kim Young-chul, said Seoul will hold talks with Pyongyang based on the three principles.