Source Pravda.Ru

North, South Korean Red Cross organizations resuming talks on POWs, abductees

Red Cross officials from the two Koreas are trying to narrow their differences Wednesday after the North refused to discuss the alleged kidnapping of South Koreans.

The talks - the first since November 2003 - started at the North's Diamond Mountain resort. They focused on hundreds of prisoners of war and abductees believed alive in the North.

South Korea estimates that 538 of its soldiers from the 1950-53 Korean War were alive in the North as of December 2004.

Seoul also says the North is holding 486 South Korean abductees, including fishermen whose boats were seized since the war ended.

Dozens of South Korean POWs have escaped from the North since 1994, as the communist country relaxed controls over the movements of its hunger-stricken population.

However, the North has denied holding any South Korean POWs and has maintained that the alleged abductees voluntarily defected.

Though the North appears more willing to discuss the POW issue amid an overall warming of ties with the South, both have couched the subject in vague terms, describing their talks as "efforts to account for those missing during wartime", the AP reports.