Reunited Koreans given privacy to bridge 60-year divide

Last Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 - 14:23

Seoul: Around 80 elderly South Koreans on today met privately with North Korean relatives they haven`t seen for 60 years, on the second day of a highly-charged reunion for families separated by the Korean War.

In contrast to the previous day when their tearful and, in some cases, clearly traumatic meetings were played out in front of TV cameras, they were allowed three hours in their own rooms to try to bridge the decades of separation.
The event, held at a mountain resort in North Korea, was only secured after intense North-South negotiations, and has been seen by many as a possible first step towards improved inter-Korean cooperation.

It is the first such reunion for more than three years, and followed a rare concession from North Korea, which had originally threatened to cancel if the South and the United States pushed ahead with annual joint military drills that begin on Monday.

North Korea`s main ally China, which has come under increased US pressure to push Pyongyang into abandoning its nuclear weapons programme, welcomed the reunion as a moment of "great significance".

"We believe this is an important and correct step forward taken ... With national interests and regional peace and stability in mind," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.

In an apparent goodwill gesture, Seoul today approved the shipment by two private aid groups for close to USD 1.0 million worth of tuberculosis medicine and powdered milk to North Korea.

The 82 South Korean participants, with an average age of 84 and some so frail they had to be moved by ambulance, arrived at the resort midday yesterday after crossing the heavily-militarised border in a convoy of 10 buses.

AFP

First Published: Friday, February 21, 2014 - 14:23

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