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North Korea proposes family reunion talks with South Korea

world Updated: Sep 11, 2010 13:56 IST

AP
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North Korea has offered South Korea a new round of reunions for families separated by the Korean War, state media said on Saturday.

Reunions last happened in September and October 2009, and their potential renewal could signal an easing of tensions after the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

The North proposed that the two Koreas' Red Cross societies meet soon to discuss the gatherings. It proposed the reunions take place at the North's scenic Diamond Mountain on the Chuseok autumn harvest holiday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported.

Chuseok, which falls on Sept 22 this year, is a major holiday for both Koreas, equivalent to Thanksgiving in the United States.

North Korea's Red Cross chief Jang Jae On expressed hope that "humanitarian cooperation between the North and the South would get brisk with the reunion of separated families and their relatives."

Jang made the comment in a message sent to his South Korean counterpart yesterday, according to KCNA.

South Korea's Red Cross would consider the North's proposal and consult with the government, according to Kim Seong-keun, a South Korean Red Cross official in charge of inter-Korean cooperation.

The two sides last held Red Cross-brokered reunions for six days around Chuseok holiday in late September and early October last year. So far, more than 20,800 separated families have been reunited through brief face-to-face meetings or by video following a landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000.