SEOUL (Reuters) - The two Koreas were near a deal to resume reunions of families separated by the Korean War at a rare meeting this week that follows conciliatory moves made by the destitute North after it was hit by U.N. sanctions.
The talks held in North Korea between the two countries’ Red Cross Societies are the first between the rival states in nearly two years and come as the North has reached out this month to the South, once a major supplier of aid.
The discussions are slated to end on Friday.
The following are some facts about the families who were separated after the 1950-53 Korean War.
* About 127,000 people in the South reported in 1988 that they believed missing family members were in the North. About 40,000 of these South Koreans have died since then, with most of them never taking part in reunions, the South Korean government said.
* At the meeting held this week in the North’s Mt. Kumgang resort, Red Cross officials agreed that 100 families will be picked to meet separated family members.
* The first of only two summits between the leaders of the two Koreas in 2000 led to the first round of family reunions on the August 15 Liberation Day holiday of that year where 1,172 people from the South and the North took part in brief meetings over three days.
* Sixteen rounds of the reunions have taken place, the last in October 2007 brought together 831 people from the two Koreas.
* An additional 3,748 people have spoken to family members on the other side of the border over a closed-circuit video link beginning in 2005.
* South Korea has pressed for the North for answers on more than 540 prisoners of war and 480 civilians thought to have been abducted during and after the war and believed held in the North.
* North Korea has said only 10 South Korean POWs and 11 civilians were alive there. It has refused to bargain on the issue, saying no one was being held against their will.
Reporting by Jack Kim and Christine Kim; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Sanjeev Miglani