North Korea Spurns Talks for More Family Reunions With South

North Korea rejected the South’s offer for talks on holding regular reunions of families separated by the Korean War, saying the mood for dialogue doesn’t exist, the Unification Ministry in Seoul said.

The rejection further stalls momentum for improving ties after last month’s reunions were followed by the North firing a dozen short-range missiles. The ministry expressed regret today over the decision in an e-mailed statement and said the North yesterday protested South Korean activists flying anti-Kim Jong Un leaflets across the border.

“Family reunions are a task to be resolved between North and South before anything else and without being tied to any other issues,” the ministry said.

Between Feb. 20 and 25 the two countries held their first reunions in more than three years, coinciding with annual U.S.- South Korean drills that the North calls preparations for an invasion. The allies today wrapped up their computer-based war exercise called Key Resolve, U.S. Forces Korea said in an e-mailed statement. Foal Eagle, a field training exercise that also began Feb. 24, is due to end April 18.

North Korea yesterday defended its rocket launches under the right of self-defense. One of the missiles threatened the safety of a China Southern Airlines Co. airplane that crossed its trajectory en route to Shenyang, China from Japan on March 4, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok said.

The two Koreas bar their citizens from contacting or meeting one another freely after the 1950-53 war ended without a peace treaty. Tens of thousands of aging South Koreans are on a waiting list to be reunited briefly with family members.

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