S Korea, DPRK still divided on regularizing family reunions

21:23, October 26, 2010      

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As South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) remained divided on regularizing family reunions, the first day of their two-day Red Cross talks on the event ended at the DPRK's border city of Kaesong on Tuesday.

During the Tuesday's meeting, Seoul's delegation proposed monthly reunion events for 100 families starting from March next year, Seoul's state-run broadcaster KBS reported, citing officials taking part in the meeting.

Seoul side also suggested that those family members who have already met in previous reunion events be allowed to met again on a monthly basis, and the seniors over the age of 80 be allowed to visit their hometown in both sides starting from April next year.

However, the DPRK side proposed holding face-to-face family reunion events three or four times a year, which should be staged during traditional holiday seasons such as Lunar New Year and the Chuseok festival (Mid-Autumn festival), and staging video exchanges between separated families at the same time.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang side also advocated that regularizing family reunions should be pushed forward alongside with other humanitarian projects including inter-Korean exchanges.

Pyongyang insisted the regularization of family reunions should be based on a resumption of cross-border tours, noting that pragmatic talks on the issue are needed between the two sides in order to facilitate the family reunions.

In response, Seoul still sticked to its position that the reunion and the cross-border tours are two separate matters. The reunion events should be staged based on humanitarian spirit, and with absolutely no strings attached.

The talks will continue on Wednesday.

The two sides recently held a series of working-level contacts to discuss holding what would be the first family reunions in a year, but failed to narrow their differences over tying the event to a resumption of cross-border tours, suspended after a shooting death of a South Korean tourist in 2008.

One hundred people each from both sides of the border will be given a rare chance for rendezvous during family reunions slated for Oct. 30 to Nov. 5. The oldest participant is a 97-year-old South Korean woman, who is to meet her 65-year-old daughter living in the North.

The last family reunions were held in September 2009, the 16th such meetings.



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