North Korea agrees to discuss family reunionsUpdated: 2014-02-03 11:55:21 (KST)
We start with North Korea's highly anticipated response to a proposal about family reunions
Pyongyang has suggested the two Koreas meet for working-level talks this week to discuss the possible resumption of reunions for families separated since the Korean War.
For more, let's connect live to our correspondent Hwang Sung-hee at the unification ministry in Seoul.
Sung-hee, what's the latest?
It looks like the two Koreas will meet for Red Cross talks this Wednesday to discuss the details on resuming the long-suspended reunions for families divided by the war.
This comes after North Korea sent a short message earlier this morning saying the two sides could meet for working-level talks on either Wednesday or Thursday on the North Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom.
Shortly afterward, South Korea's unification ministry said it proposed meeting on Wednesday.
At the meeting, the two sides will discuss when and where the reunions will take place.
South Korea has proposed holding the reunions from February 17th to the 22nd at North Korea's Mt. Kumgang resort.
If the two Koreas do meet later this week, that leaves them less than two weeks until the proposed reunion dates.
Is the third week of February still viable?
Now that question was asked during a press briefing here at the unification ministry earlier today.
While Unification Ministry Spokesperson Kim Eui-do refrained from giving a clear yes or no answer, he said that while the exact date must be discussed with the North, South Korea will push to hold the event as soon as possible considering the urgency of the matter.
Millions of Koreans were separated during the Korean War and we must keep in mind that time is running out for elderly family members to see their loved ones one last time.
North Korea may make a counterproposal on the dates of the reunions, possibly to hold the event sometime after joint military drills between South Korea and the United States that will start at the end of this month and run through April.
Seoul and Washington say the annual drills, involving thousands of troops, are purely defensive in nature, but the North views it as a war game.
South Korea had earlier left open the possibility that the reunion dates could be changed at the North's request, saying it was willing to put it under consideration if it was for justifiable reasons.
Thank you, Sung-hee. That was Hwang Sung-hee reporting on North Korea's response on South Korea's proposal for family reunions.
Reporter : firstname.lastname@example.org