08/25/2009, 00.00
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Family reunification on agenda in talks between Seoul and Pyongyang

The three-day summit will be held in a North Korean resort. Launched by the Red Cross in 2000, the project has been suspended for over a year over growing tension between the two Koreas. A new sign of detente, and willingness for direct dialogue between the neighbouring nations.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) – A fresh round of talks will take place this week between Seoul and Pyongyang to recommence the program for the reunification of North and South Korean families separated by the 1950-53 war and the division of the peninsula. The move was announced by the South Korean Yonhap news agency, quoting official sources in Seoul.

The project, organized by the Red Cross, has been suspended for over a year because of the continuing tensions between the two countries. The decision is a new sign of detente, following the normalization of transit at the borders, the recovery of the only direct line of communication and the resumption of "Peace Train” services.

South Korean Minister for Unification, Chun Hae-sung, has announced that “procedures will be discussed with the North, so that talks can resume tomorrow as scheduled”. Pyongyang stated that it has accepted a proposal from South Korea for a three-day meeting - under the auspices of the Red Cross – starting tomorrow. The summit will be held in a resort near Mount Kumgang, on the east coast of North Korea.

Launched by the Red Cross in late 2000, the program for the reunification of Korean families is the result of the first, historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who died on  August 18. The last meeting between families divided by war took place in October 2007, approximately 600 thousand South Koreans have relatives or family members who live across the border.

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