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China Daily Website

DPRK agree on family reunion contact

Updated: 2013-08-22 11:36
( Xinhua)

SEOUL - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) accepted Republic of Korea's proposal to hold working- level contacts for reunion of families separated by the Korean War (1950-53) in Panmunjom, Seoul's Unification Ministry said on Thursday.

Pyongyang sent a notice of its acceptance through communication lines at the truce village of Panmunjom, the Unification of Ministry in charge of inter-Korean relations said.

The acceptance came four days after Seoul made a counterproposal to hold Red Cross working-level contacts in Panmunjom rather than in Mount Kumgang the DPRK originally proposed as a dialogue venue.

Pyongyang's acceptance brightened the outlook for the first reunion of separated families in three years around the Chuseok holidays that fall on September 19 this year. ROK President Park Geun-hye hoped the reunion be hold at one of the country's most important traditional holidays.

Red Cross delegates from both sides will meet at Peace House in the ROK side of Panmunjom on August 23 to discuss the date and venue for the family reunion.

ROK has cautioned about the DPRK's intent to link the family reunion issue with the resumption of Mount Kumgang tours by holding the reunion contact in Mount Kumgang, while Pyongyang insisted the two issues were linked.

Pyongyang said at the notice that talks on restarting the tour to Mount Kumgang, just north of the heavily armed border, could be held in late August or in early September rather than September 25, the day Seoul suggested as the dialogue date.

The Unification Ministry planned to send its stance after reviewing the proposal.

Tour to Mount Kumgang, launched in 1998, was halted in 2008 when a ROK female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK soldier for apparently venturing into an off-limit area.

Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said Wednesday that conditions for resumption of Mount Kumgang tour are not convoluted, noting that "things (related to the tour resumption) should be thought of and considered from the overall perspective of inter- Korean relations."

Regarding his remarks, the ministry said that conditions for resuming the Mount Kumgang tour were clear, citing truth behind the past incident, recurrence prevention and protection of tourists.

Pyongyang said it can discuss the issues such as preventing recurrence of the tourist incident, guaranteeing safety of tourists and protecting assets, to which Seoul pays much attention. It reflected the DPRK's eagerness to reopen the suspended tour.

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