North and South Korean officials agreed today to meet in Seoul within two months to discuss the reunion of families who were separated by the Korean War 30 years ago.
The talks, to be conducted between the two governments' Red Cross societies, will resume a dialogue on family reunion that broke off in 1973 after seven meetings.
Any meetings after the session in Seoul will be in the north's capital, Pyongyang.
Today's agreement was reached during a two-hour conference at Panmunjom, the neutral truce village in the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean peninsula, called to work out such details as timing and agenda of the full meetings.
Coming after a meeting on economic cooperation and an exchange of flood relief aid, it was another sign of an unusual degree of trust that the two mutually hostile governments have exhibited in recent months.
About 10 million of the 60 million people in North and South Korea have close relatives in the other zone. A ban on travel, mail or telephone service between the two for ordinary people has left most of them without such basic information as whether a particular family member is alive or dead.
In today's meeting, the two sides displayed more of the smiles and brotherly small talk that have characterized face-to-face contacts between the opposing sides recently.
They agreed that the full meetings' agenda would include programs to gather information on the fate of citizens and communicate it to relatives. Postal service would also be discussed.
They agreed to discuss visits between separated family members and permanent resettlement from one zone to the other. To facilitate coordination, they agreed to open a liaison office in Panmunjom and two direct telephone lines.
The only note of discord came when the north's delegates proposed to send a performing troupe to Seoul to give the meeting a festive air. The south rejected it, saying that any entertainment should be the job of the hosts.