2 Koreas Take New Reconciliation Step

Times Wire Services

North and South Korea took another step toward reconciliation Thursday, agreeing to allow reunions of separated families and creating commissions to work on military, economic and social exchanges.

Nuclear arms, the most divisive issue between the two Koreas, were not covered by the agreements. South Korea fears that the north is trying to make nuclear arms, although the Pyongyang government denies this.

North Korea sent a report listing its nuclear plants to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna this week. The agency said Tuesday that it expects to begin inspections of North Korean nuclear facilities by mid-June.

The most emotional outcome for most Koreans was the agreement for exchange visits next August by 240 people from each side.

The family reunions will be the second between the Communist north and pro-West south since the end of World War II. The first reunion in 1985 involved 150 people from each side.

An estimated 10 million Koreans were separated from their families by the 1945 division of the peninsula and the 1950-53 Korean War.

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