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Unification minister urges N. Korea to allow reunion of separated families

2017/10/02 16:40

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SEOUL, Oct. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myung-gyon on Monday urged North Korea to accept its offer to arrange reunions of separated families across the border.

"I once again urge North Korea not to disregard the pain of separated families and join the path to solve the issue," Cho said in a speech to an annual ceremony for the day of separated families.

Seoul in July offered talks with Pyongyang to arrange reunions of South and North Korean families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War but the North Korean regime remains unresponsive.

Since the last reunion held in October 2015 in North Korea, the two Koreas have not held one for two years, increasing humanitarian concerns for the separated families.

"The current inter-Koren relations are in a grave and difficult situation, but the government will maintain its stance that the separate family issue should be pursued apart from the political and military conditions," the minister said. It "will pour all the efforts into solving the separated family issue."

   "Letting families know of the fate and well-being of their relatives and keep in contact with them is a basic human need and the duty of the top priority for a government," the minister stressed, adding that the issue carries special urgency as most separated families are in their very senior years.

"For the government, it is also a natural duty to remember and commemorate the pain and hope of separated families who were most affected by the (Korean) war and the following national division," he also noted.