07/20/2006, 00.00
NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
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Pyongyang stops family reunification meeting

The move has been interpreted as retaliation for the adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on missile test launches in the north. Seoul has announced its intention to seek to dialogue with the north through unofficial channels.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – The North Korean regime has put a stop to family reunification meetings, announcing its intention to stall them "until South Korea resumes delivery of humanitarian aid".

This was announced yesterday by Jang Jae-on, chairman of the North Korean Red Cross. In a message to his counterpart in the south, he wrote: "There will be no more inter-Korean family reunions between North and South Korea. The construction of the reunion center at Mt. Geumgang and special video reunions planned for August 15 will not take place."

Jang continued: "Seoul deserves it because it refused to continue providing humanitarian aid such as rice and fertilizer in the 19th inter-Korean ministerial level meeting." The South Korean Unification Ministry said: "Although not unexpected, it is very unfortunate. We will do our best to restart the reunion of separated families."

A Seoul government representative added: "Pyongyang's announcement could be interpreted as North Korea's 'counter action' on the UN Security Council's adoption of a resolution that would impose sanctions on North Korea. The UN resolution has enhanced tension across the peninsula, but we will seek to persuade the North through unofficial channels."

But it does not seem as if the tension between the two Koreas will be easily resolved. "We want humanitarian cooperative projects to continue, in line with the principle stated in the June 15 Joint Statement, but Seoul imposed obstacles to the future of the projects."

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