South Korea and North Korea in Talks to Unite Separated Families

August 26, 2009

(ChattahBox)—For the first time in two years, Red Cross officials from North Korea and South Korea are meeting this week to negotiate for reunions between families separated by the closed border between the two countries, since the Korean War ended in 1953. This move may signal that North Korea is moving towards more conciliatory relations with its neighbor to the South and with Western nations.

Chun Hae-sung, the spokesman for the Unification Ministry in Seoul, said the three-day meeting between Red Cross officials is scheduled to begin on Wednesday in southeastern North Korea. Depending on the successful outcome of the talks, a select number of Koreans from each side will be allowed to meet relatives they have never seen or even communicated with in 55 years.

North Korea ended the reunions after President Lee Myung-bak took office in South Korea, citing his harsh policies towards North Korea.

The resumed talks between the two Koreas, may be the harbinger of the closed off Communist nation, emerging from its policies of provoking the U.S. and South Korea, with its nuclear test, missile launching and saber rattling dialogue.

Reports coming out of North Korea in JoongAng Ilbo, a daily newspaper in Seoul, says the nation has invited President Obama’s special envoy on North Korea, Stephen W. Bosworth and Sung Kim, Washington’s chief nuclear negotiator to visit Pyongyang. The U.S. has previously said that it would only meet with North Korea in six-nation talks that also involve South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. But North Korea says that the six-nation talks are “dead.”

Reports from North Korea also say that leader, Kim Jong-il, invited South Korea to hold talks between the two countries, but South Korea denies the reports.

U.S. officials are unsure if North Korea’s recent overtures are genuine. North Korea may be feeling the effects from the severe international sanctions imposed on the belligerent nation, after its nuclear test on May 25.

According to the New York Times, North Korea has a history of alternating “…between brinkmanship and conciliation. Each fresh round of talks, typically begun with high hopes, provided the North with aid but eventually disintegrated after only minor progress on the dismantling of the North’s nuclear weapons program.”

Whatever the motives of North Korea’s recent softening, the two American journalists released from North Korea’s custody last month, after a special visit from former President Bill Clinton, were certainly happy to have benefited from Kim Jong-il’s conciliatory gestures.

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One Response to “South Korea and North Korea in Talks to Unite Separated Families”

  1. North and South Korea agree on reunions of families separated for more than 50 years | ChattahBox News Blog on August 28th, 2009 8:12 am

    […] split since the Korean War ended in 1953, after Red Cross officials from both countries meet for three-day this week to negotiate.   The two countries agreed to arrange meetings for 100 people from each side in […]

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