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North Korea Proposes Resumption of Family Reunions

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North Korea has proposed the resumption of reunions of families separated since the end of the Korean war six decades ago.

South Korea welcomed the Friday message from Pyongyang, which offered to start the reunions after next week's Lunar New Year and at a date of Seoul's choosing.

Inter-Korean family reunions have not taken place in more than three years because of tensions on the peninsula. Last year, Pyongyang abruptly canceled reunions just days before they were scheduled to take place.

Millions of Koreans were separated by the Korean War, which ended with a 1953 armistice, not a peace treaty.

Earlier Friday, North Korea's National Defense Commission sent an open letter to South Korean officials saying Pyongyang is "determined to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity."

The North's official Korean Central News Agency carried the letter, which also vowed to work to "completely halt hostile military acts, realize the reunion of separated families and re-energize multi-faceted North-South cooperation and exchanges.

However, the letter called for an end to South Korea's joint military drills with the United States, while defending what it called its own "precious nuclear force for self-defense.

Last week, the NDC sent a series of proposals urging South Korea to cancel scheduled joint exercises with the U.S. Seoul dismissed the calls as deceptive propaganda exercises.

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