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In brief: South Korea calls for family reunions with North Korea

Mon., Jan. 6, 2014

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea’s president called today for resuming reunions of families separated by war, expressing her hopes that the humanitarian program would improve strained ties between the rival Koreas.

The call comes amid lingering tensions on the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang’s fiery rhetoric and threats of nuclear wars last spring. The two Koreas had planned to hold family reunions in September for the first time in three years but Pyongyang canceled them at the last minute.

President Park Geun-hye told a televised news conference that she wants the reunions to take place on the occasion of the Lunar New Year’s Day later this month to “heal wounded hearts.”

Millions of people have been separated since an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War has never been changed to a peace treaty. The two Koreas bar ordinary citizens from exchanging letters, phone calls or email.

Ruling party leads despite violence

DHAKA, Bangladesh – Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party was leading today with 232 seats in a national election marred by violence and boycotted by the opposition amid concerns by the international community that the process was deeply flawed.

The Election Commission had not provided official results, but preliminary results reaching the commission showed that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party bagged 105 seats among 147 constituencies where voting took place Sunday, when at least 18 people were killed in election-related violence.

Hasina’s refusal to heed opposition demands to step down and appoint a neutral caretaker to oversee the election led to the boycott, undermining the legitimacy of the vote.

Activists pursue Japanese whalers

SYDNEY – A group of anti-whaling activists was today chasing Japan’s whaling fleet in the icy waters off Antarctica, as the country’s annual Antarctic whale hunt gets underway.

The Sea Shepherd organization, which each year tries to harass the whaling fleet into stopping its hunt, said it had caught up with all five of Japan’s whaling vessels today. The group released images of several dead whales lying on the deck of one ship.


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