South Korea offered Monday to hold high-level talks with North Korea next week on the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and other issues of “mutual concern.”
In a fax message to Pyongyang, the South proposed that a fresh round of high-level, inter-Korean talks take place at the truce village of Panmunjeom on Aug. 19, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said.
The South asked the North to propose another date if it wants, said the ministry.
The South hopes to discuss a possible family reunion event on the occasion of the upcoming Chuseok holiday on Sept. 8 and other pending issues, it added.
|Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae (Yonhap)|
If held, it would be the second high-level inter-Korean meeting since the launch of the conservative Park Geun-hye administration one and a half years ago.
The two Koreas had the previous round in February but produced no major agreement. The South was represented by Kim Kyou-hyun, deputy chief of the presidential office of national security, and his northern counterpart was Won Dong-yon, the deputy head of the United Front Department.
Seoul’s unexpected overture came four days before the 64th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan’s colonization.
South Korea’s leader often puts forward a major proposal for reconciliation with the North in his or her Liberation Day speech that is televised nationwide.
Last week, President Park presided over an inaugural session of a high-profile presidential panel designed to prepare for the reunification of Korea.
Park has openly said reunification would be a “bonanza,” not only for the two Koreas but also for neighboring nations.
On her trip to the former East German city of Dresden in March, she unveiled Seoul’s unification vision, dubbed the “Dresden Declaration,” which revolves around a push for promoting the “humanity, co-prosperity and integration” of the two Koreas as part of her administration’s reunification vision.
Earlier Monday, the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, said it will provide North Korea with $13.3 million in humanitarian aid via the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.
Raising hopes of a thaw in frosty inter-Korean ties, the North also plans to join the Asian Games to open in September in the South’s western port city of Incheon. (Yonhap)