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Aug 29, 6:03 AM EDT

Rival Koreas set date for talks preparing family reunions


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Rival Koreas set date for talks preparing family reunions

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North and South Korea on Saturday set a meeting to prepare for more reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The first preparatory talk will be held between the countries' Red Cross officials on Sept. 7 at the border village of Panmunjom, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry. Ministry officials believe the next reunions could take place as early as October, considering the time needed to match relatives and agree on a venue.

The Koreas have held 19 reunions since 2000, which were participated by nearly 19,000 individuals, but none since February last year.

The rival Koreas announced plans for the new reunions earlier this week as part of measures to reduce animosity. The agreement came after the countries' senior officials held marathon talks to defuse built-up tension that had pushed the countries to the brink of a possible military confrontation.

The standoff began after land mines that Seoul says the North planted maimed two South Korean soldiers on border patrol. Seoul responded by resuming anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts along the border in the first time in 11 years. The North reacted with fury, declaring that its front-line troops were in full war readiness and prepared to go to battle if the South did not back down.

South Korea turned off its loudspeakers Tuesday after North Korea in an accord expressed "regret" that the South Korean soldiers were injured by the mine blasts, but without saying it was responsible for it.

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