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Red Cross officials of two Koreas hold informal talks

All Headlines 12:05 July 11, 2011

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- Red Cross officials from the two Koreas held informal talks on the sidelines of an international conference in China last week, a South Korean Red Cross official said Monday.

Kim Yong-hyun, secretary-general of the South's Red Cross, and Paek Yong-ho, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the Red Cross Society of North Korea, met during breaks at the East Asian regional Red Cross leadership meeting in Ordos City, located in China's Inner Mongolia, between last Tuesday and Thursday, the official said on the condition of anonymity.

"Secretary-general Kim said there should be dialogue and exchanges between Red Cross officials of the two sides, despite the strain in inter-Korean relations," said the official, who also attended the conference. "To this, Vice Chairman Paek responded that he should not make such comments at an international conference, but rather deliver an official proposal."

On the communist state's food situation, a different official from the North's Red Cross said that the North Korean people were surviving on one meal per day due to severe food shortages, the South Korean official said. His remarks came as the European Commission announced last week a decision to provide the impoverished state with aid worth 10 million euros to help feed its 650,000 people.

The South Korean official, however, played down the significance of the informal talks, saying they only discussed humanitarian issues relevant to the Red Cross, such as food aid and reunions of families separated by the Korean War. Talks between officials of the two Koreas have been rare following the North's two deadly attacks against the South last year. A total of 50 South Koreans were killed in the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the artillery shelling of the South's border island of Yeonpyeong.
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