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Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

Rival Koreas agree to August reunions of war-split families

President Donald Trump extended the state of national emergency against North Korea for an extra year Friday despite his recent statements that the threat to the US posed by dictator Kim Jong Un's missiles and nuclear weapons was a thing of the past.

It's safe to say that these reunions are going to be highly emotional with most of the participants (if not all) being elderly people who were around at the time of the country's split.

The reunions are among steps promised by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and Moon Jae-in, president of South Korea, as part of a recent dramatic improvement in relations, after fears of war over North Korean nuclear and missile programmes.

Friday's talks between Red Cross officials at the Diamond Mountain resort were to arrange details of the reunions.

"Sleep well tonight!" Trump tweeted on June 13, the day after he and Kim met in Singapore.

Following Moon's talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, officials from the two countries signed agreements on cooperation in various economic projects, energy, transport and innovative technologies.

The resumption of the events was agreed at an April summit between the Koreas. Park Kyung-seo, South Korea's Red Cross chief, expressed hope for productive talks that could "resolve the grief of our nation".

North Korea suspended nuclear and missile testing when the peace process began earlier this year, and has committed to dismantling its entire nuclear weapons program.

Since the end of the Korean War, both Koreas have banned ordinary citizens from visiting relatives on the other side of the border or contacting them without permission.

Since the reunification agreement in 2000, a total of 20 face-to-face family reunions have been held involving 19,800 people from both sides of the border, according to Yonhap.

The limited rounds of reunions are vastly insufficient to meet the demands of aging relatives, who are mostly in their 80s and 90s, South Korean officials say. More than 75,000 have since died and 60 percent are aged 80 or older.

"They could quickly come back should we see the dialogue momentum losing speed or North Korea not living up to its denuclearization commitment", she said.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific military commander told Japan's defence minister on Thursday (Jun 21) that Washington remained committed to the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.

He vowed that Moscow also would try to help settle problems concerning North Korea.

"There is much demand for group tours for North Korea, because of rising Chinese interest in the North after a series of its summits with China, the United States and South Korea".

Mr Kim met US President Donald Trump earlier this month - an unprecedented summit after a year in which the pair exchanged insults and threats.


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