South Korea says it has turned down a request from North Korea to move up the date of preliminary military talks between the two countries.

Officials said Monday that Pyongyang had asked to hold the preparatory talks on Tuesday, 10 days earlier than the planned beginning of negotiations at the border village of Panmunjom.  They said the earlier date would not provide enough time to prepare for the first face-to-face talks since the North launched an artillery attack on a South Korean island November 23.

The meeting is aimed at setting a date and agenda for higher-level military talks.  The North has already agreed to discuss its attack on Yeonpyeong Island and the earlier sinking of a South Korean warship, but Seoul says it will not agree to meetings at the ministerial level unless the North accepts responsibility for the two attacks.

It was not clear why the North wanted to advance the talks, but analysts said it may be related to the birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on February 16.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.