Koreas to hold Red Cross talks to resume construction of family reunion center


Red cross officials from South and North Korea are to meet this week on resuming the construction of a family reunion center on the North’s scenic mountain bordering the South along the east coast, South Korean officials said.

The one-day meeting, slated to be held at the North’s Mount Geumgang resort on Friday, will also address the next family reunions via video link to be held on March 27-29.

Last week, the two Koreas agreed to resume reunion events for families separated by the border since the end of the Korean War. The next face-to-face family reunions will be resumed in early May.

Shortly after the North conducted its missile tests in July, the South suspended food and fertilizer aid. In retaliation, the communist nation immediately suspended inter-Korean talks, family reunions and the construction of the family reunion center.

“The construction has been put on hold for about eight months, so we will have to resume construction after checking whether there are technical problems. The construction will likely be completed next year, far later than the originally scheduled April of this year,” a South Korean Red Cross official said on condition of anonymity.

High on the agenda will be discussions on when to resume construction, how to check the facilities needed for construction, and how to provide supplies and dispatch engineers, the official said. The South Korean delegation will be headed by Hwang Jeong-ju, while Pak Yong-il will lead the North Korean team.

The two sides started the construction at a village near the scenic mountain resort in August 2005. The envisioned 12-story building will house two reunion halls and serve as the venue for family reunion events.

The two Koreas have held 14 rounds of family reunions. More than 90,000 people from South Korea alone have remained separated from their loved ones since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.


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