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Red Cross Chief’s Apology Rejected

November 8, 2000

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korea’s Red Cross rejected on Wednesday an apology by South Korea’s Red Cross chief for allegedly defaming the communist country.

The Northern Red Cross had accused Chang Choong-shik of slandering the North in an interview with Seoul’s conservative monthly Chosun.

Chosun’s October edition quoted Chang as saying that facilities in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, were decrepit and reunions between relatives separated by the world’s most heavily fortified border will let people from both Koreas compare their political systems.

On Wednesday, an unidentified spokesman for North Korea’s Red Cross said in a statement that Chang sent a letter to the North, saying he felt ``regretful″ and some of the contents of the article had been distorted.

``We cannot consider his letter to be honest,″ the statement said, adding Chang should protest to the monthly magazine.

Chang led a delegation of 100 South Koreans to Pyongyang for brief reunions with relatives in August. An equal number traveled to Seoul for reunions.

North Korea’s Red Cross said it would be hard to discuss reuniting more families separated since the 1950-53 Korean War as long as Chang remained in his position.

The reunions were a key agreement of the historic June summit between the leaders of the two Koreas.

Meanwhile, a four-member South Korean delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday for three days of talks on boosting investment in North Korea, Seoul officials said.

The team, accompanied by 12 assistants and six reporters, flew to North Korea by way of China. The talks in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, were to begin on Thursday.

It will be the second round of investment talks between the two Koreas. In the first talks, in Seoul in September, both sides exchanged draft agreements aimed at guaranteeing investment and avoiding double taxation.

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