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2 Koreas to hold talks Fri. on reunions of separated families

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

North and South Korea are scheduled to hold talks Friday on arranging reunions of families that remain separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War, South Korea's Unification Ministry said Thursday.

The schedule was fixed after the North sent a notice to the South in the morning, accepting the South's offer to hold the talks at the truce village of Panmunjeom.

North Korea also said it wants to hold talks with the South on restarting a suspended tourism project in the North's Mt. Kumgang area in late August or early September, according to the ministry.

South Korea on Tuesday proposed holding the talks on the tourism project on Sept. 25.

In a speech delivered on Liberation Day, Aug. 15, marking national independence from Japan's colonial rule, South Korean President Park Geun Hye made the proposal for the next round of family reunions to be held on the occasion of Chuseok, the Korean Thanksgiving Day which falls on Sept. 19 this year.

The two Koreas first arranged temporary reunions for separated family members after the landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000, and have so far held 18 reunions, bringing together more than 20,000 family members who had not seen each other since the war. But none has been held since late 2010 due to strained ties.

Yonhap News Agency reported that some 73,000 people in South Korea have requested to meet with their relatives in the North, and about 80 percent of them are over the age of 70, adding urgency to the issue of family reunions.

The program for South Koreans to tour Mt. Kumgang, launched in 1998, has been suspended since 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier.

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/130822/2-koreas-hold-talks-fri-reunions-separated-families