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Koreas agree to new family reunions

Thousands of families have had no contact with their relatives in almost 50 years
Thousands of families have had no contact with their relatives in almost 50 years  

SEOUL, South Korea -- North and South Korea have agreed to hold two more reunions for families divided since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Red Cross in Seoul has announced.

The reunions are seen as a key part of the reconciliation process between the two Koreas but such meetings were suspended last October amid rising tensions.

Red Cross officials from both sides met Saturday at the border village of Panmumjom and agreed to hold two reunions on April 28-30 and May 1-3.

Earlier this month South Korean presidential envoy Lim Dong-won traveled to the North where he secured an agreement to hold what will be the fourth round of family reunions.

Each meeting will reunite members of 100 families. Both reunions will take place at North Korea's Diamond Mountain resort. Asia
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The first will involve 100 South Koreans traveling to meet an undetermined number of North Korean relatives.

Later 100 North Koreans will welcome an undetermined number of South Korean relatives.

Red Cross officials are planning to meet again Thursday to hammer out the details of the visit.

The issue of Korea's divided families is one of the bitterest legacies of the Korean conflict.

Almost 50 years after the fighting stopped the issue has become all the more pressing as many family members are now very old.

About 1.2 million North Koreans fled to South Korea before or during the Korean War, and thousands of South Koreans are believed to have gone to the North voluntarily or after being conscripted into the North's army.

North and South Korea remain officially at war, never having signed a peace treaty.




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