S Korea proposes to talk with DPRK on resuming separated family reunions

13:19, October 12, 2009      

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South Korea's Unification Ministry on Monday said the country's Red Cross proposed to hold talks with its counterpart in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Friday mainly focused on resuming separated family reunions.

The South Korean side has delivered the proposal to Jang Jae-on, the DPRK's Red Cross chief, and suggested holding the talks at the Mount Kumgang resort on the DPRK's east coast, the country's Yonhap News Agency quoted the ministry's spokesman Chun Hae-sung as saying.

When asked what other humanitarian project would be touched upon during the talks, Chun said "it would be inappropriate to speculate on other areas that could be explored", stressing that the separated family reunions events would be top priority for the South Korean side.

The two sides hold the latest round of family reunions during the period from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1, the first in nearly two years.

Pyongyang did not promise to regularize the family reunions at the Red Cross contact in August.

The family reunions program, which began in 2000 after a historic inter-Korean summit between the two sides, was suspended as ties between Pyongyang and Seoul soured after South Korea's conservative government under President Lee Myung-bak came to power in February 2008.

About 600,000 South Koreans are believed to have relatives in the DPRK.

Since 2000, more than 127,000 South Koreans have filed applications to meet their families in the DPRK. However, only two-thirds of these people are still alive.

Till now, only around 10,000 people have been lucky ones as they were selected through a computer lottery among tens of thousands of applicants to participate in the reunions events.

Ordinary citizens were not allowed to make phone calls, send letters or exchange e-mails across the border.

Source: Xinhua
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