In the News – U.S. says it remains committed to helping separated Korean families

In the News – U.S. says it remains committed to helping separated Korean families

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, March 29 (Yonhap) — The U.S. government said Thursday that it will continue a humanitarian effort to help Korean-American residents here get in touch with their families in North Korea.

“The United States supports efforts to reconnect Korean-Americans separated from their family members in the DPRK (North Korea) since the end of the Korean War,” a State Department official told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity. “The is a humanitarian issue and we continue to do all that we can to raise this issue in relevant fora.”

Such a commitment came despite soaring tensions over North Korea’s move to blast a long-range rocket in mid-April.

The U.S. has already suspended programs to provide the North with food aid and restart searches with the communist nation for the remains of American troops killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

But the department official’s comments suggest that the U.S. will keep the humanitarian project for separated families intact.

Prior to Pyongyang’s announcement for the rocket launch plan, Robert King, the U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, held several rounds of talks with North Korean officials to discuss ways to move forward humanitarian projects such as food assistance and the exchange of letters or reunions of separated families.

Earlier this week, King met with representatives from civilian groups for Korean-American people with their families in the North at his State Department office, according to a source.

The organizations include the Divided Families Foundation, based in Washington, and the Korean American Assembly for Reunion of Separated Families, in Los Angeles.

King encouraged Korean-American families to “sign up through the American Red Cross in order to find out about their relatives in the DPRK,” the source told Yonhap.

“This is the first clear recommendation that he has given to divided families regarding this issue — which was to tell the leaders of the divided families organizations to have people register with the American Red Cross,” added the source.

The State Department also noted the role of the American Red Cross on the matter.

“As part of their humanitarian mission, the American Red Cross facilitates reconnecting families around the globe,” it said.

 

Original article can be found here.

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