Attacks alter Korean peace talks
Wednesday, September 19, 2001
SEOUL -- President Kim Dae-jung said agreements reached yesterday by South and North Korean negotiators have "special meaning" because of the terrorist attacks in the United States.
The first talks between the two Koreas after six months of suspended contacts yielded plans for another reunion of separated family members, many of whom have not seen each other since the 1950-53 Korean War.
The deal marked the revival of reconciliation efforts that offer the best hope yet for peace after a half-century of conflict. The fragile process had come to a virtual standstill because of tension between North Korea and the United States.
"I endow special meaning to this," presidential spokesman Oh Hong-keun quoted Mr. Kim as saying after the talks. "We have upheld peace and showed co-operation and exchanges on the Korean peninsula, which is most sensitive to security issues, at a time when the world is being drawn into war."
North and South negotiators said the next round of family reunions are scheduled from Oct. 16 to Oct. 18. The meetings are expected to involve 100 people from each side.
After a historic summit last year, the Koreas staged three rounds of temporary reunions for 300 separated family members from each side.
The inter-Korean border is sealed and there is no mail, telephone or other direct means of communication for private individuals on either side.
Cabinet-level negotiators also said the Koreas will work to reconnect a cross-border railway after their armed forces agree on construction operations inside the Demilitarized Zone. It said the work would be done "at the earliest possible date."
Negotiators said officials will meet to discuss the long-delayed construction of an industrial park for South Korean businesses in the North's border city of Kaesong.
The Koreas said they will hold joint tae kwon do events in October and November and conduct a field survey for a flood-control project on the Imjin River on the border.
Also, government officials are scheduled to meet Oct. 4 to discuss ways of reviving a financially troubled South Korean tourism project at a scenic mountain on the North's east coast.
In a statement released before they left for home yesterday, the North Korean delegates said, "The important agreements reached will undoubtedly give hope and confidence to our people."
Joint economic talks are scheduled for Oct. 23-26. The next round of cabinet-level talks will be held Oct. 28-31.