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Two Koreas start talks on family reunions

Two Koreas start talks on family reunions

Red Cross officials from South and North Korea yesterday began talks on resuming a program for family reunions, amid signs of a thaw in cross-border ties.
The three-day meeting between Red Cross delegations from the two sides began at the North's Mount Kumgang resort to arrange a new round of reunions after a two-year break, the South's unification ministry said.
Tens of thousands of families have been separated by barbed wire and minefields since the 1950-53 Korean War.
There are no civilian mail or phone services between the two countries, which remain technically at war in the absence of a peace treaty.
"Many people are looking forward to reunions with their families north of the border," South Korean delegation head Kim Young-Chol told reporters earlier.
"We will try to have as many people as possible included in the reunions this time," Kim said.
The program began in earnest after a historic inter-Korean summit in 2000.
Since then the two sides have held 16 rounds of face-to-face temporary reunions and seven rounds of video exchanges.
More than 16,000 Koreans were allowed face-to-face meetings while thousands of others communicated by video.
About 600,000 South Koreans are believed to have relatives in North Korea. Many are dying without ever meeting family members.
The last reunions were in October 2007. The program was shelved as ties between Pyongyang and Seoul worsened after South Korea's conservative government took office in February 2008.
The communist country has made a series of peacemaking gestures this month.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and a visiting Seoul business chief agreed reunions should resume around the Korean Thanksgiving holiday on Oct. 3. They also agreed to restart tourism programs to the North by South Koreans.
Last weekend Kim sent envoys to Seoul to mourn former president Kim Dae-Jung and hold talks with President Lee Myung-Bak.


Updated : 2021-08-02 06:58 GMT+08:00