North Korea agrees to reunion talks after Kaeseong Accord

Families separated by the Korean War due to be reunited at North Korean holiday resort, against backdrop of joint US and South Korean military exercises

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The Independent Online

The regime of Kim Jong-un has agreed to a South Korean proposal to resume reunions of families separated as a result of the 1950-1953 war, according to North Korean state media.

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye called last week for the reunions, last held in 2010 under her predecessor Lee Myung-bak, to be resumed.

Talks are to be held on 23 August  between Red Cross officials from both sides of the demilitarized border zone at a North Korean tourist resort on Mt Kumgang. The reunions are due to follow on 19 September in the same resort, known locally as the Diamond Mountain.

The South Korean premier’s statement follows an agreement to reopen the Kaesong industrial complex, a joint initiative between the two Koreas, which is home to 123 South Korean factories employing more than 50,000 North Korean workers. The complex was been closed since April due to political tensions.

The announcement of talks comes as the South Korean and US militaries begin annual drills today. There are signs of easing tensions between the two sides of the peninsula, as state media in the isolated North have, in an unusual step, avoided making any major statements on this year’s exercises.

In the past Pyongyang has described them as preparation for a pre-emptive attack. The allies insist that the drills are defensive in nature.

The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which will continue until 30 August, are computer-simulated war games that involve 30,000 American and 50,000 South Korean troops, according to the South Korean defence ministry and the U.S. military command in Seoul.