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S Korean parliament confirms new PM
Seoul, Oct 1 (DPA/Agencies):
Published on 1 Oct. 2010 11:02 PM IST
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The South Korean National Assembly Friday confirmed the nomination of a former judge as the country’s next prime minister, a news report said. Kim Hwang Sik’s nomination by President Lee Myung Bak was approved by 169 to 71 votes, with the majority of the support from the ruling Grand National Party, the Yonhap News agency said.
Most opposition parliamentarians voted against the nomination of Kim, 62, amid suspicions of draft dodging and financial irregularities, the report said. Kim is set to be the first prime minister from the south-western province of South Jeolla, traditionally a power base for the main opposition Democratic Party. The former Supreme Court justice, and current head of the state audit agency, is to replace Chung Un Chan, who resigned in late July after failing to secure parliamentary backing for a government plan to backtrack on the controversial planned relocation of part of the administration.
The South and North Korean Red Cross organisations agreed Friday to hold a new series of reunions for families divided by the split peninsula, an official said. Two previous talks in the past three weeks, also held in the border town of Kaesong, had failed to reach an agreement on where to hold the reunions. At Friday’s meeting, the two sides agreed that the reunions, the first for around a year, were to be held between Oct 30 and Nov 5 in the Kumgang Mountain resort on North Korea’s east coast. The talks were widely taken to represent a cooling of tensions between the two Koreas, which had spiked after the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which killed 46 sailors.
A day earlier, military talks were held at the invitation of North Korea. The talks were inconclusive, after North Korea refused to accept the blame for the sinking of the Cheonan.
North Korea has denied involvement, and at the end of May, it broke off ties with its neighbour.
North Korea proposed the Red Cross talks on the family reunions. The invitation was followed by the South Korean Red Cross’ announcement that it would send rice and cement to the North to help it recover from flooding in August.
Tens of thousands of Koreans were separated by the 1950-53 Korean War and the subsequent division of the Korean Peninsula. From 2000 to 2007, about 16,000 were reunited at more than a dozen family reunions held at Kumgang Mountain. After a two-year break, one more reunion was held last year.
The choice of venue has been controversial, as Seoul has banned cross-border tours, including to Kumgang, after the fatal shooting of a South Korean tourist by North Korean soldiers in 2008. North Korea has said it wants the South to resume tourist operations at the resort, which bring much needed foreign currency to the impoverished Stalinist state, before reunions can resume there, the South’s Yonhap news agency said earlier.
The recent apparently conciliatory gestures from North Korea came as leader Kim Jong Il introduced his son and heir apparent Kim Jong Un to the official stage, awarding him several high-ranking military and political positions at a conference earlier this week.

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