Facebook Twitter

More Korean reunions set

First talks after 6 months hailed as productive

SHARE More Korean reunions set

SEOUL, South Korea — The first talks between North and South Korea after six months of suspended contacts yielded another reunion of separated family members, along with other agreements that the North said "undoubtedly give hope" to all Koreans.

In a joint statement, Cabinet-level negotiators said reunions of relatives, many of whom have not seen each other since the 1950-53 Korean War, would be held Oct. 16-18. The meetings were expected to involve 100 people from each side.

The statement also said the Koreas would work to reconnect a cross-border railway after their armed forces agree on construction operations inside the Demilitarized Zone. It said the work would be done "at the earliest possible date."

Officials will meet to discuss the long-delayed construction of an industrial park for South Korean businesses in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, according to both sides.

Government officials will meet Oct. 4 to discuss ways of reviving a financially troubled South Korean tourism project at a scenic mountain on the North's east coast.

South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said the talks had done much to allay security concerns, especially after the terrorist attacks last week in the United States.

"We have upheld peace and showed cooperation and exchanges on the Korean peninsula, which is most sensitive to security issues, at a time when the world is being drawn into war," presidential spokesman Oh Hong-keun quoted Kim as saying.

In a statement released before they left for home Tuesday, the North Korean delegates said: "The important agreements reached will undoubtedly give hope and confidence to our people."

However, the huge array of troops and weapons on both sides of the inter-Korean border is a reminder that the peace process remains fragile and prone to delays.

During the talks, South Korea promised to consider a North Korean request for more food aid to alleviate chronic shortages.

The joint statement did not address more difficult issues, such as a North Korean demand for free South Korean electricity, and the repatriation of former pro-communist prisoners who are barred from leaving the South.

The delegates did not discuss North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's promise to visit Seoul. He made the pledge during a summit in Pyongyang last year with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, but no date has been set.

After the summit, the Koreas staged three rounds of temporary reunions for a total of 300 separated family members from each side.

The inter-Korean border is sealed and there is no mail, telephone and other direct means of communications for ordinary people on both sides.

Joint economic talks are scheduled for Oct. 23-26. The next round of Cabinet-level talks will be held Oct. 28-31.

Other agreements Tuesday included the opening of some North Korean waters in the Sea of Japan for South Korean fishing boats, and a study on allowing the passage of commercial ships through each other's territorial waters.

The Korean peninsula was divided in 1945. The Korean War ended without a peace treaty.