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North Korea Postpones Family Reunions With the South

North Korea has postponed next week's reunions of families separated by the 1950s Korean War because of what it perceives as hostile positions of the South.

The official Korean Central News Agency on Saturday quoted officials saying the meetings will not take place until "there can be a normal atmosphere where dialogue and negotiations can be held."

The paper, which reflects government positions, blamed unidentified South Korean conservatives for abusing inter-Korean relations. It also slammed Seoul for recent joint military drills with the United States.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said it is "very regretful" that the North decided to cancel the family reunions for "political reasons," saying the decision has "broken the hearts" of families separated by war.

The six days of reunions were scheduled to begin next Wednesday at the North's Mount Kumgang resort village. Under a deal reached last month, about 100 people from each side were to attend.



The reunions were suspended three years ago after North Korea shelled a South Korean border island. The reunion program began in 2000, following a historic inter-Korean summit.

The North's postponement comes amid a reduction in tensions between the two foes, which are still technically in a state of war since their 1950-'53 conflict ended in a truce and not a treaty.

Earlier this week, the two sides re-opened a symbolically important joint factory just north of the border. The Kaesong industrial complex had been shut down by the North since April amid heightened tensions that followed the North's third nuclear test.

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