Ministers in talks to bring relatives together

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The Independent Online
SOUTH KOREA said yesterday it was going into bilateral talks with North Korea which would include discussions on the reuniting of families separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War. The delegations will also discuss the urgent issue of fertiliser aid for the famine-stricken North.

The meeting, the first high-level government talks since the death of the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in 1994, was scheduled to take place in Peking yesterday.

"At the Peking meeting, the two sides will take up the issue of fertiliser, but that will not overshadow the humanitarian concerns over the reunion of separated families," the South Korean presidential spokesman Park Jie- won said.

Kim Dae Jung, the South Korean President, has said he wanted to increase economic exchanges with North Korea, but he has also insisted that family reunions cannot be delayed.

Pyongyang proposed the vice-minister-level talks, mainly to discuss fertiliser aid. South Korea's agenda includes an exchange of special envoys and a summit, as well as family reunions. Analysts said South Korea would use disbursement of the fertiliser to win concessions from the North in other areas.

- Reuters, Seoul

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