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North, South Korea prepare for reunions

Sept. 21, 2009 at 9:39 AM

SEOUL, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- South Korean officials said Monday they are starting preparations for the reunions of hundreds of families separated by the Korean War.

A 10-member advance team of South Korean Red Cross and government officials went to North Korea to do the groundwork for the reunions of 200 people with long-lost relatives. The reunions are scheduled to begin Saturday, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency reported.

Chun Hae-sung, spokesman for Seoul's Unification Ministry, told reporters the team "is going to check through detailed schedules, reunion places and accommodations as well as communication channels and other facilities with the North."

The reunions mark the first time that Pyongyang has allowed such visits in nearly two years. The North-South reunions were launched in 2000 after first inter-Korean summit was held that year, but Yonhap said they were suspended after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office last year on promises of getting tough on the North's nuclear program.

Fighting in the Korean War ended in a stalemate in 1953.

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