North Korea demanded Monday that United States troops be pulled out from South Korea, saying USA military presence in the South is a pretext for “ceaseless north-targeted saber-rattling”.
Although North Korea has been known to cancel the event, and breaking the hearts of the families looking forward to the meetings, the most recent deal states that on September 15, each side will exchange the names of families who are hoping to meet.
“Withdrawal of USA forces from South Korea has become a requirement of the times, which brooks no further delay”, it added. Each reunion is deluged by tens of thousands of applications from South Korea, but only a tiny percentage are selected. Pyongyang maintains that the annual war games are preparations for an invasion of the North.
The deal defused tensions that had escalated on the peninsula following two land mine blasts on August 4 that maimed two South Korean soldiers, an incident Seoul attributed to Pyongyang.
The highly emotional reunions have not happened since early previous year.
Since the war from 1950 to 1953 between the two Koreas, people from the North and South have been living apart. About half of the estimated 129,700 applicants for reunions have since died. 20 to 26, Seoul’s unification ministry and North Korean media said.
“North Korea took the nuclear issue off the table anyways, [so] then there is no downside to press on the human rights issue”, said Go Myong-Hyun. Considering that such topics have never actually been discussed in a working-level meeting of this sort before, the attitude of the South Korean negotiators appears to have been responsible for making the talks drag on for so long.
“The government is closely watching related situations”, Yun said.
The experts said both Koreas need to maintain an attitude of refraining from irritating each other in order to continue the current atmosphere of dialogue and hold the reunions as agreed.
Speculation is rampant that North Korea is expected to launch a long-range missile around October 10, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party.
They urged North Korea to refrain from provocations such as missile launches while advising the South Korean government to carry out policies of military security and humanitarian projects separately. The actions violated global law and an agreement that Pyongyang would stop missile launches.
North Korea has denied committing the alleged abuses, but has refused to allow independent inspectors into the country to investigate.