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Koreas to Discuss Family Reunions, But Talks Venue in Dispute

North and South Korea have agreed in principle to hold talks on resuming reunions of families separated by the Korean War, in the latest sign of an apparent easing of tensions between the two rivals.

But, there was disagreement about where the talks should be held. Seoul has proposed a holding a meeting of Red Cross officials of the two sides at the border village of Panmunjom on Friday. Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA responded to that proposal on Sunday, saying the meeting should be held at the North Korean resort of Mount Kumgang, a former tourism joint venture of the two Koreas.

The South Korean government said it views the North Korean response "positively" but insists that the talks about family reunions should be held at Panmunjom. It was not clear when or how the venue dispute will be resolved.

KCNA said Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea also wants to hold inter-Korean talks about restarting South Korean visits to Mount Kumgang.

The resort had served as a key source of foreign currency for the authoritarian rulers of impoverished North Korea until the South stopped sending tourists in 2008. Seoul suspended the visits in protest at a North Korean border guard's fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist who had strayed into a restricted area.

Seoul said the North Korean offer of talks on resuming Mount Kumgang tours is under review.



North Korea has made several gestures toward the South in recent days following months of high tension this year. Last week, Pyongyang agreed to cooperate with Seoul on re-opening a joint industrial complex in the North, near the inter-Korean border. The Kaesong zone was the last symbol of cooperation between the two Koreas until it closed in April when tensions peaked.

North and South Korea last organized family reunions in 2010. The 1950-53 Korean War divided the families of millions of Koreans, but only tens of thousands of them are still alive. Many of the elderly Koreans have been waiting for the chance to join reunion events to see their loved ones before they die. Previous reunions typically have been held in the North for small groups of several hundred people.

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