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Two Koreas to hold reunion for war-separated families

Seoul, June 22: North and South Korea agreed on Friday to hold reunions from August 20-26 for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. A hundred families from each Korea would be selected for the reunions in a hotel on Mount Kumgang on the southeast coast of North Korea, the same venue where earlier reunions have taken place, Yonhap news agency reported. Red Cross delegations from the two Koreas had met earlier in the day in the same hotel to discuss the reunions and other issues of mutual interest.

The South Korean Red Cross delegation was led by Park Kyung-seo, while the North Korean delegation was headed by the vice chairman of the Committee for Peaceful Reunification, Pak Yong-il. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had agreed during their summit on April 27 to hold reunions of separated families around the middle of August. The August reunion would be the first meeting of its kind since October 2015 and is expected to further strengthen the current spirit of rapprochement and cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The South Korean government insisted on the need to resume the reunions due to ageing of family members, who were separated more than 65 years ago during the Korean War. The number of South Koreans registered for the family reunions totalled 132,124 in May (86 per cent of whom are 70 years old or older), although it is believed that only about 57,000 of them are still alive. Meanwhile, the delegations did not comment on whether they discussed the issue of resumption of humanitarian aid for North Korea from the South, or the repatriation of the North Korean waitresses who had defected to the South in 2016.(IANS)

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