Uncertainty remained whether the North would keep its pledge to
hold the reunions ahead of the start of the drills, but the South
said it would not use the military exercises as a means to secure
the family event.
The North proposed the family reunions last week in a move welcomed
by both China, its sole major ally, and the United States. If they
come about, the reunions would be the first such event in more than
But the North has yet to respond to a call by the South for the
event to be held over six days in February and for a meeting to
hammer out location and logistics.
"(We) expressed regret that the North has been showing an uncertain
and passive position on the reunions of separated families, despite
having accepted the proposal to hold them," a spokeswoman of South
Korea's Unification Ministry said.
North Korean media have instead trumpeted the country's long-standing
demand for a halt to the military drills, a frequent sticking point
in the rivals' effort to improve ties.
The North calls the drills a prelude to war, despite the South's
denial and assurance that they are defensive exercises that have
been held for decades with no major incident.
Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy on North Korea policy, met his South
Korean counterpart in Seoul on Tuesday. Both rebuffed Pyongyang's
call to stop upcoming military drills.
[to top of second column]
"We will continue on a transparent basis to conduct these defensive
exercises so that we are ready should, God forbid, any contingency
arise," Davies told reporters after the meeting.
Tensions soared last year as Pyongyang reacted angrily to tightened
U.N. sanctions imposed in response to its latest nuclear test.
The two Koreas remain technically at war, as their 1950-53 civil
conflict ended in a truce and not a peace treaty. The war left
millions of families divided, with private travel across the border
and communication, including phone calls, banned.
The family reunions typically see the separated relatives meeting
for fleeting moments at a resort in Mount Kumgang just north of the
(Reporting by Ju-min Park; writing by Jack Kim;
editing by Clarence
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