Monday, August 17, 2009

North Korea to lift border restrictions on South

North Korea announced today that it would resume reunions of families separated by the border with South Korea and restart stalled tourism ventures in its latest gesture of conciliation after nearly 18 months of rising tensions.

The North also agreed to resume reunions at Mt. Kumgang of families separated by one of the world's most heavily fortified borders on this year's Chuseok, the annual autumn harvest holiday in early October.

North Korea also said it agreed to ease restrictions on border traffic and "energize" the operation of a joint factory park in Kaesong.

The North said the agreement was reached with Seoul's Hyundai Group, the main South Korean investor in North Korea and followed a meeting between conglomerate Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang on Sunday.

The North, however, said separately that it was putting its army on "special alert" because of South Korea's military drills with the United States this week, a sign that hostility and distrust between the rival countries remain high.

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