News / Asia

Koreas Meet Again Despite Rejection of North's Drill Demand

FILE - South Korean chief delegate Kim Kyou-hyun, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Won Tong Yon upon his arrival at the border village of Panumjom, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.
FILE - South Korean chief delegate Kim Kyou-hyun, right, shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Won Tong Yon upon his arrival at the border village of Panumjom, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014.
Daniel Schearf
South Korea has rejected North Korea's demand that it postpone annual joint military drills with the United States until after reunions of Korean families separated by the Korean War. Nonetheless, senior-level talks between the two Koreas are set to continue at North Korea's request.
 
North and South Korea are set to meet Friday for a second day of high-level talks after an overnight breakdown over joint military drills with the United States.
 
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification said Thursday Pyongyang requested dialogue continue despite Seoul's dismissing demands it postpone the exercises.
 
North Korea said the defense drills should be held after recently re-scheduled cross-border family reunions.
 
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae addressed South Korean lawmakers Thursday at the National Assembly, and reported that North Korea demanded the postponement of the U.S.-South Korea joint exercise until after family reunions.  The South Korean side, he said, emphasized that family reunions are a humanitarian issue and should not be linked with political or military matters. He said a clear message was sent that the South could not accept a postponement.
 
North Korea made the demand during senior level talks Wednesday at the border truce village of Panmunjom. It is the highest level discussion between the two Koreas since 2007. 
 
The North Korean delegation also demanded South Korea muzzle freedom of the press by instructing media not to print anything deemed insulting about leader Kim Jong Un and their political system.
 
The reunion of families separated by the Korean War was originally scheduled for September but, with just days to go, Pyongyang scrapped the plan. It blamed South Korea for taking too much credit for improved relations as well as insults to its dignity.
 
North Korea agreed last month to re-schedule the reunions from February 20 through 25, but once again threatened to cancel them over U.S. military flights and the defense drills, which overlap from the 24th through April.
 
North Korea's calling for a postponement of the drills represents a softening of its earlier hard-line position that they be stopped. 
 
Nonetheless, South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said the schedule will not be changed. Kim said military units have already started moving into place to conduct the drills and the troops are supposed to participate in the drills as planned. It is not appropriate, he said, to link the exercises to the family reunions.
 
Pyongyang said the regular drills, called Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, are preparation for a nuclear attack. Washington and Seoul say they are for maintaining preparedness against North Korea.
 
The apparent defrosting of relations between North and South comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Seoul.
 
The top U.S. diplomat is expected to focus much of the two-day visit on issues involving threats from North Korea and its pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.
 
VOA Seoul Bureau Producer Youmi Kim contributed to this report.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid