Alexa

Koreas hold talks on reuniting divided families

 Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, center, and other delegates Kim Dong-shik and Kim Eyi-do, ...
 Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, second from right, talks with another delegate Kim Dong-sh...
 South Korean activists burn portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and what protesters say is his son Kim Jong Un during a rally against North ...
 A South Korean conservative activist shouts slogans during a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, ...
 A South Korean student wearing a North Korean military uniform kicks a mock North Korean woman during a rally  against North Korea's nuclear programs...
 South Korean activists burn a  North Korean flag during a rally  against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 20...
 South Korean conservative activists burn a North Korean flag and a portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a rally against North Korea's n...
 A South Korean activist participates in a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009. South Korean ...
 South Korean activists shout slogans during a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009.  South Ko...
 Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, left, shakes hand with his North Korean counterpart Choe S...
 Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Choe...
 Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, left, shakes hand with his North Korean counterpart Choe S...
 Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, right, walks with his North Korean counterpart Choe Song I...

South Korea Koreas Tension

Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, center, and other delegates Kim Dong-shik and Kim Eyi-do, ...

South Korea Koreas Tension

Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, second from right, talks with another delegate Kim Dong-sh...

South Korea Koreas Tension

South Korean activists burn portraits of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and what protesters say is his son Kim Jong Un during a rally against North ...

South Korea Koreas Tension

A South Korean conservative activist shouts slogans during a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, ...

South Korea Koreas Tension

A South Korean student wearing a North Korean military uniform kicks a mock North Korean woman during a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs...

South Korea Koreas Tension

South Korean activists burn a North Korean flag during a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 20...

South Korea Koreas Tension

South Korean conservative activists burn a North Korean flag and a portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il during a rally against North Korea's n...

South Korea Koreas Tension

A South Korean activist participates in a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009. South Korean ...

South Korea Koreas Tension

South Korean activists shout slogans during a rally against North Korea's nuclear programs in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009. South Ko...

North Korea Koreas Tension

Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, left, shakes hand with his North Korean counterpart Choe S...

North Korea Koreas Tension

Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Choe...

North Korea Koreas Tension

Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, left, shakes hand with his North Korean counterpart Choe S...

North Korea Koreas Tension

Kim Young-chol, chief delegate and secretary general of the South Korean Red Cross office, right, walks with his North Korean counterpart Choe Song I...

North and South Korea disagreed Wednesday on when families divided by the Korean War will be allowed to meet, at the first family reunion talks between the two sides in nearly two years.
Family reunions had been held annually since a landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000, but were suspended in 2008 when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office with a hardline policy toward Pyongyang.
Although tensions have cooled and the reunion talks have resumed, the two sides were still at odds over the timing.
Seoul wanted the first stage of the reunions to be held in late September followed by a second stage in early October, while the North demanded that both stages be held in early October, close to the Chuseok autumn harvest holiday, according to South Korean media pool reports.
Chuseok, which falls on Oct. 3, is a major holiday for both Koreas, equivalent to Thanksgiving in the United States.
An official from South Korea's Unification Ministry said a Red Cross official headed the country's delegation, accompanied by two representatives from the government in Seoul. He requested anonymity, saying he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Pool reports said Red Cross officials from both sides attended the talks at the Diamond Mountain resort in the North.
The two Koreas last held Red Cross-brokered reunion talks in November 2007. The latest meeting is scheduled to last for three days and the two sides are expected to issue an agreement on Friday.
Millions of families were separated following the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945 and the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, leaving the two countries technically at war.
More than 16,000 Koreans have met relatives in temporary reunions held under South Korea's two previous liberal presidents. There are no mail, telephone or e-mail exchanges between ordinary citizens across the Korean border.
North Korea's chief Red Cross delegate Choe Song Ik expressed hope that this "good opportunity will help develop North-South relations" and their humanitarian projects. His South Korean counterpart Kim Young-chol also said he has "expectations for big accomplishments."
The two sides are expected to work out their differences before issuing an agreement on Friday, the last day of talks.
North Korea's recent attempts to reach out to South Korea and the U.S. follows provocations earlier this year, including its second nuclear test in May and a barrage of ballistic missile launches.
Earlier this month, the North freed two American journalists and a South Korean worker. The North also agreed to lift restrictions on border crossings with the South and pledged to resume suspended inter-Korean projects. And last week, a North Korean delegation traveled to Seoul to mourn the death of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
On Tuesday, South Korean media reported that the communist nation had invited two top U.S. envoys to visit Pyongyang for the first nuclear talks since President Barack Obama took office, and that the U.S. government was strongly considering sending them next month.
However, U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said neither special envoy Stephen Bosworth nor nuclear negotiator Sung Kim had immediate plans to go.
North Korea has long sought direct negotiations with Washington. The U.S. has said it is willing to talk bilaterally, but only within the framework of the disarmament talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.
"Bilateral contacts and discussions can be part of that framework, but the six-party talks and multilateral approach remain central to the way we will proceed," U.S. envoy Philip Goldberg told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday, part of his Asian tour to seek support for enforcing U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang for its May 25 nuclear test.
The North insisted it would not return to multilateral talks during meetings with China's nuclear envoy in Pyongyang last week, Yonhap news agency reported, citing unidentified South Korean officials.
Bilateral relations between the two Koreas deteriorated with the inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak early last year. Lee infuriated North Korea by imposing tough policies such as linking aid to the North's nuclear disarmament, prompting it to cut off all reconciliation talks and most of their joint projects.
Meanwhile, Hyundai Asan, the South Korean company whose worker was released by North Korea earlier this month, said Wednesday that it paid the North $15,757 for the worker's hotel bill during his more than four months in detention.
North Korea has a record of demanding money when freeing foreigners.
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Associated Press writers Jae-soon Chang in Seoul, Matthew Lee in Washington and Shino Yuasa in Tokyo contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-03-05 10:04 GMT+08:00