N. Korea takes S. Korea's offer to discuss family reunions at Panmunjom
North Korea has accepted South Korea's offer to meet at Panmunjom on Friday to discuss ways to resume reunions for families separated since the Korean War.
The two had been at odds over the venue for days, with the North pushing to hold the talks at its Mount Geumgang resort while the South wanted to meet at the South Korean side of Panmunjom.
An official from Seoul's Unification Ministry said Thursday that the North notified its change in stance through the inter-Korean hotline and made a counterproposal on South Korea's offer to discuss the issue of reopening the Mount Geumgang tourism resort at the end of next month.
South Korea suggested earlier this week to hold separate talks on September 25th on reopening the resort to South Korean tourists.
The North said the issue cannot wait that long and proposed to meet at the end of this month or the beginning of September.
Initially, Pyongyang wanted to hold the talks this week, before the Koreas meet for discussions on family reunions.
South Korean tours to the Mount Geumgang resort came to an abrupt end in 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard.
The unification ministry said it will have to thoroughly review North Korea's latest proposal before giving an answer.
For now, the ministry said the focus is on holding a successful round of reunions for divided families sometime around the Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving holiday next month.
Thousands of Korean families were left separated during the Korean War in the 1950s and the unification ministry says more than 80 percent of the 73-thousand registered separated family members in the South are over the age of 70.
The ministry said the possibility is open for the reunions to take place at the Mount Geumgang resort as it did in the past, but made clear that even if it does, family reunions and Mount Geumgang tours will be dealt with as two separate issues.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.
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