In the News – S. Korea to press N. Korea again to hold reunions of separated families
SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s point man on North Korea said Tuesday he will urge Pyongyang to accept Seoul’s offer to resume reunions of family members separated for nearly six decades.
The move came three days after North Korea rejected South Korea’s recent proposal to hold Red Cross talks to help arrange reunions of separated families.
The North has called for South Korea’s apology for not paying official respect over the December death of its leader Kim Jong-il as a key condition for resuming stalled bilateral talks.
South Korea expressed sympathy to the people of North Korea over Kim’s death but did not send an official mourning delegation to Pyongyang. Seoul did approve condolence trips by private delegations.
“I will urge North Korea” again to accept the issue of reuniting separated family members, Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik told reporters, without providing a specific time frame for his planned offer.
He also called on the North to put aside differences in staging family reunions, one of the key humanitarian issues between the two divided Koreas.
Millions of Koreans have been separated from their family members since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides still technically at war.
The divided Koreas have held more than a dozen rounds of reunions since a landmark summit in 2000, bringing together more than 21,700 family members who had not seen each other since the war.
South Korea wants to resume regular reunions, but none have taken place since October 2010.
There are no direct means of contact between ordinary civilians of the two countries that remain divided by a heavily fortified border.
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