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North Korea Rejects Seoul's Proposal on Reunion Talks

by VOA News March 05, 2014

North Korea has rejected South's Korea's proposal for talks on resuming reunions between families separated by the 1950s Korean War.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said the North delivered the message Thursday, saying a 'proper atmosphere had not been created' to resume the talks.

South Korea had proposed talks next week on holding regular reunions, which were temporarily resumed last month for the first time in three years.

The reunions, which followed rare high-level talks, had raised the possibility that fragile Korean relations were on the upswing.

The North's rejection follows a series of short-range missile and rocket tests Pyongyang has carried out in response to U.S.-South Korean war drills.

The North on Wednesday described the launches as routine and defensive. It slammed the ongoing Key Resolve military exercise as provocative.

Washington and Seoul say their own drills are defensive, and Pyongyang's tests are in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

South Korea's Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin on Wednesday warned he 'could not exclude the possibility' North Korea could soon conduct a nuclear or long-range missile test.

The developments are being watched closely by thousands of aging Koreans who have not seen or spoke to their relatives in decades.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday proposed allowing the separated families to communicate via letters and video messaging, though this also seems unlikely given the North's rejection.

North and South Koreans are forbidden by their governments to correspond with one another. The two countries remain in a state of war following their 1950s conflict, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

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