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The BBC's Caroline Gluck in Seoul
"Both sides are determined to keep up the momentum"
 real 28k

Saturday, 30 September, 2000, 07:11 GMT 08:11 UK
Koreas agree to search for relatives
Summer reunion
Some 200 people were reunited in August
North and South Korea have agreed on steps aimed at locating families separated since the division of the peninsula more than half a century ago.

In a joint statement issued after four days of talks at the South Korean resort of Cheju island, the two sides said they would take bolder steps to bring divided families together, following the temporary reunion of 200 family members in August.

An estimated 10 million people belong to families divided by the demilitarised zone that has separated the two Koreas since the 1950-53 Korean War.

South Korea has been pressing for measures which would at least allow them to find out whether their relatives are still alive.

Reunion centre

Tens of thousands of South Koreans have filed requests to find and see their relatives in the North.

Park and Jon
Park (left) and Jon agreed on a series of measures
Earlier this week the two sides agreed on a new programme of limited exchanges.

The new agreement also makes provision for divided families to correspond, and for the creation by the end of the year of a permanent centre for family reunions.

A senior representative from the South, Kim Hyung-ki, said: "We agreed to make all-out co-operations to solve the matter of separated families in an earlier time, including finding the relatives, exchanging letters and setting up a reunion place."

At the start of the talks on Thursday the South's Unification Minister, Park Jae-kyu, said the North's previous efforts to arrange family reunions "fell far short of the South's expectations".

North Korea's representative in the talks was senior cabinet councillor, Jon Kum-jin.

Rail link

The two sides also agreed to establish a joint committee to push forward economic co-operation and trade.

The delegations visited Chonjiyeon falls
The delegations visited Chonjiyeon falls
Major projects include the reconnection of a rail and road link across the heavily fortified border, and joint anti-flood work on the Imjin River near the border.

The two Koreas will also resume friendly football matches alternately in Seoul and Pyongyang from next year, and launch exchange programmes for professors and students, artists, musicians, dancers and other performers.

Park and Jon also discussed the date for the visit to Seoul by Kim Yong-nam, head of the North's Supreme People's Assembly.

He is expected to visit the South in December before the North's supreme leader Kim Jong-il goes to Seoul in March or April.

Food aid

The thaw between the two Koreas follows a landmark inter-Korean summit in June.

On the sidelines of the latest talks, South Korea announced on Thursday it would send 600,000 tonnes of rice and corn to North Korea on credit, along with a donation of 100,000 tonnes of corn via the UN's World Food Programme.

The move has been criticised by South Korea's main opposition party, on the grounds that the food could be diverted to the military.

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See also:

23 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Koreas agree on more reunions
23 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan urged closer to N Korea
17 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Koreas' reconciliation railway
13 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Kim Jong-il to go South 'in spring'
10 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Olympics brings Koreas together
02 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korean communists go home
16 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Koreas end propaganda war
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