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S.Korea Red Cross Heads To N.Korea

June 26, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ A delegation from the South Korean Red Cross left Monday for North Korea to hold talks on reuniting families separated by the Korean War a half-century ago.

The four-day session, which begins Tuesday, stems from a deal struck at a historic summit two weeks ago. The two Koreas agreed at the meeting to allow an unspecified number of separated family members to visit their hometowns for temporary reunions in mid-August.

After the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung said about 100 separated family members from each side will be allowed to cross the border for the August reunions.

The six-member Red Cross delegation will hold talks with its North Korean counterpart. The meeting will be held on Diamond Mountain, a sightseeing attraction on the North’s east coast. A six-member South Korean press corps traveled with the delegation to cover the talks.

South Korea hopes to arrange more family reunions after August. In the first reunion in 1985, 50 separated family members from each Korea were allowed to cross the border. Efforts to arrange further family reunions failed because of political and military tensions.

About 1.2 million people fled what is now North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War to settle in South Korea, Seoul officials said.

The Koreas were divided into the communist North and the pro-Western South in 1945. Their border is sealed with nearly 2 million troops deployed on both sides. There is no mail or other direct means of communications between them.

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