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North Korea agrees to discuss family reunions

Updated: 2014-02-03 PM 2:51:58 (KST)
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Breaking its week-long silence, North Korea proposed on Monday that the two Koreas meet for Red Cross talks on either Wednesday or Thursday to discuss resuming the long-suspended reunions for families divided by the Korean War.
Shortly after, South Korea suggested they meet on Wednesday.
At the meeting, which will take place on the North Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom, the two sides will discuss when and where the reunions will take place.
South Korea had previously proposed holding the event from February 17th to the 22nd at North Korea's Mt. Kumgang resort, but since the preparation time for such an event is roughly two weeks, the Koreas may not have enough time.
Nonetheless, Seoul's Unification Ministry said it will push to hold the event as soon as possible.


"The exact date must be discussed with North Korea at the working-level talks, but the South Korean government will try to have the family reunions held as soon as possible considering the urgency of the matter."


Another factor that could push the reunions back is the upcoming joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States, scheduled to begin late this month.
Seoul and Washington say the annual drills, involving thousands of troops, are purely defensive in nature, but Pyongyang views it as a war game.
Experts say the North could make a counterproposal on the reunion dates that would have the event taking place after the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, which end in April.
South Korea had earlier said the reunion dates could be changed at the North's request, if it was for justifiable reasons.
Millions of Koreans were separated during the Korean War and the elderly family members who are waiting to reunite for the first time in more than six decades will likely have their fingers crossed until the day they see their loved ones again.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News.


Reporter : ssung86@arirang.co.kr

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