N. Korea agrees on venue for talks on family reunions

Aug. 22, 2013 at 6:51 AM
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SEOUL, Aug. 22 (UPI) -- North Korea Thursday agreed to talks with South Korea at Panmunjom to arrange reunions for families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War, officials said.

The agreement to hold the talks at the neutral border village will allow the two sides to meet as early as Friday. If an agreement is reached, reunions could take place during the Sept. 19 Thanksgiving Day, which both countries observe, Yonhap News Agency reported.

It would mark the first time since 2010 families separated during the Korean War could meet their relatives on the other side. From 2000 to 2010, the families held 18 reunions.

Yonhap said about 73,000 people in South Korea have expressed interest in the reunion.

"The government aims to allow as many people to meet as possible and that all effort will be made to have an open mind so such meetings can take place," Yonhap quoted a South Korean Unification Ministry official as saying.

North Korea also called for early working-level talks on the resumption of tours to the Mount Kumgang resort, which has remained suspended since July 2008 following the shooting death of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean guard, Yonhap said. The North wants the talks held later this month or in early September instead of Sept. 25 as proposed by the South.

The agreement on the family reunion issue follows an agreement earlier this month between the two Koreas to reopen their joint industrial park in the North's border city of Kaesong, which was closed in April at the height of tensions between the two sides.

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