South Korea reported Tuesday that it has offered to hold the Red Cross meeting on February 20 with North Korea to exchange views on reuniting families that were separated during the Korean War period.
Last reunions were held in October 2010, and family reunions and the Red Cross meeting between the two Koreas have been off the table since North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpeong-do.
“The issue of holding family reunions should be considered as the top priority in the relations of the two Koreas, regardless of political issues between the two,” South Korea’s Red Cross head Yu Jung-Keun said at a press conference. “The South Korean Red Cross has sent a message under the name of the Red Cross head to its North Korean counterpart proposing another round of family reunions”. The North Korean Red Cross was reported not to have received the message as of 02:00 p.m.
“The Red Cross hopes to hold family reunions by March this year with active participation on North Korea’s part,” Yu said.
“Family reunions cannot be postponed any longer. The South Korean Red Cross sent the proposal expecting that North Korea would understand such urgent need for holding the talks,” Yu responded when asked if the timing of the proposal is in any way related to the dialogue between North Korea and the US, which is scheduled to be staged in Beijing next week. “(In preparation for the proposal,) I did not know that North Korea and the US had been under discussions to hold talks”.
If two Koreas reach agreement, family reunions could be held before April, given that historically it took about a month for two Koreas to work on the list of separated families who are invited to the reunions.
It is the third time within President Lee Myung-bak’s term that South Korea offered to have the Red Cross meeting to the North, after one in August 2009 and another in October that year.
[Written by Seong-hoon Kim - Ha’eun Bang / edited by Soyoung Chung]
[ⓒ Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]