03/02/2007, 00.00
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Reunions resume between families split between North and South

The representatives of the two Koreas met in the capital of the North and agreed to resume cycles of border meetings between relatives divided by civil war from May. The two sides were unable to agree about renewed delivery of humanitarian aid from the South.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – After four days of talks in Pyongyang, the governments of the two Koreas have accepted to resume a family reunification programme with a cycle of meetings at the border between relatives separated by the military divide.

The meetings should start in early May at a hotel on the slopes of Mount Kumgang (the mountain has been contested since the end of the Korean civil war between 1950 and 1953 but is de facto ruled by Pyongyang) and they will be organized by the Red Cross agencies of both countries.

The first “reunifications” back in the early eighties took place exclusively via screens. In 2003, however, relatives were actually able to meet face to face, spending a day together at the border.

Representatives of Seoul and Pyongyang, who were meeting for the first time after the crisis ignited in October by the nuclear test conducted by the Stalinist regime, also discussed the resumption of humanitarian aid from South Korea. Aid delivery is currently stalled due to the North Korean “missile provocation”.

Last July, the Stalinist regime fired some missiles on the peninsula and towards Japan. Seoul consequently suspended annual shipments of aid to the people in the north, consisting of 500,000 tonnes of rice and 350,000 tonnes of fertiliser. Pyongyang responded by walking out of negotiations about family reunions.

The following month, a new phase of meetings between separated relatives was held anyway; it had been planned for sometime. Since then, however, talks had been stalled.

South Korea intends to resume delivery of rice and fertilizer only after April, when Kim Jong-il clearly shows that he will honour agreements reached during the last round of six-party talks on nuclear disarmament. But the North insists aid should resume as from this month.

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See also
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Pyongyang stops family reunification meeting
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