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Two Koreas agree to hold family reunion

Updated: 2014-01-24 21:41
( Xinhua)

SEOUL - South Korea on Friday welcomed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s acceptance of its recent proposal to hold reunion of separated families, heralding a thaw in inter-Korean relations amid Pyongyang's repeated peace call.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said in a statement that the DPRK sent a notice in the name of the Red Cross at around 6 pm Friday to propose holding reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The notice said that the family reunion will be held in the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang as agreed upon before, but it noted that the date of the event can be determined for the South's convenience after the Lunar New Year's holiday passes by and the weather starts to thaw.

The DPRK said that other issues would be discussed through the Red Cross communication channels at the truce village of Panmunjom.

"North Korea (DPRK) turned up a card that the South cannot rebuff. The North showed flexible attitude to prove its sincerity (over its recent peace call)," Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the private Sejong Institute in Seoul, said by phone.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed at her New Year' s press conference to resume the family reunion around the Lunar New Year that falls on January 31, but the DPRK rejected the offer, saying that obstacles should be removed.

Pyongyang called for Seoul to cancel its annual joint military drills with Washington scheduled for late February to April, but South Korea rejected the demand, saying that the exercise is defensive in nature.

The National Defense Commission sent an open letter Thursday on a special order from DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un, saying that Pyongyang's repeated peace call was not "camouflaged," the official KCNA news agency reported on Friday.

On January 16, the commission said in its "important proposal" that the two Koreas should stop all hostile acts starting from January 30 on the eve of the Lunar New Year.

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