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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 12:00 GMT
Korean talks collapse
A North Korean man cries and embraces his South Korean mother
Further family reunions had appeared on the cards
Talks between North and South Korea have broken down after several days, unravelling agreements apparently reached to continue family reunions and hold further ministerial talks.

All-night negotiations at the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea failed to narrow differences over anti-terrorism measures and the South Korean delegation has returned home.


There was no change in the North's attitude, so we have nothing to tell them any more

South Korean spokesman Rhee Bong-jo
New strains were put on relations between the two countries when South Korea issued an emergency alert against terrorism after the 11 September attacks in the United States.

North Korea says the alert is directed against itself - a charge South Korea rejects.

"We were able to close significantly the gap in the North's understanding of our security measures, but this was the major point of contention," South Korean Unification Minister Hong Soon-young told reporters.

South and North Korean soldiers at border
The North is concerned over South Korean security
North Korea, in a statement broadcast on state-run radio, blamed the breakdown on the South's "stubborn and unreasonable attitude" and accused Seoul of seeking confrontation.

"As a result, a new danger arose that North-South relations will worsen," said the statement, monitored by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

The meeting had appeared to be making progress. South Korea said on Tuesday that agreement had been reached to allow 100 people from each side to be reunited with family members divided from them by the Korean War 50 years ago.

It would have been the fourth such event.

The reunions had originally been scheduled for October, but were cancelled by North Korea after the South put its forces on alert.

Rupture

The meeting began last Friday and was extended as the two sides wrangled over the nature of the South's security alert.

South Korean Unification Minister Hong Soon-young
South Korea's Unification Minister: Unable to reassure the North
They were seeking an agreement on neutral language to cover differences on anti-terrorism that had stalled their discussions.

"The chief delegates had a final meeting," South Korean spokesman Rhee Bong-jo told reporters. "But there was no change in the North's attitude, so we have nothing to tell them any more."

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the meeting "came to a complete rupture."

Another point of contention between the two sides was the venue for future inter-Korean meetings.

The North has been insisting that all high-level talks should be held at Mount Kumgang, while the South wants some of the meetings to be held in Seoul, in line with previous agreements to alternate meetings between Seoul and Pyongyang.

The two Koreas remain technically at war as the 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Caroline Gluck
"The collapse of these talks will be seen as a another big blow to the fragile rapprochement process"
See also:

12 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea postpones family reunions
18 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Koreas agree to family reunions
06 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
S Korea calls for new summit
05 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korea family reunion lottery
22 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
N Korea threatens end to missile deal
13 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Dae-jung: Korean peacemaker
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