Koreas agree to hold family reunions as planned

SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea agreed in a rare high-level meeting Friday to stop insulting each other and to go ahead with planned reunions of Korean War-divided families next week despite a dispute over forthcoming U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Highly emotional reunions of long-separated families haven't been held in three years.

The agreements reflect recent attempts by the rival Koreas to ease animosity. Analysts, however, say ties could quickly sour again because the countries may disagree over how to implement the arrangement. Authoritarian North Korea, for instance, is demanding that the South Korean government control media reports critical of the North's leadership, something democratic Seoul has said it cannot do.

A year after repeatedly threatening nuclear war and vowing to bolster its atomic capability, North Korea has recently pushed for better ties with Seoul, agreeing to arrange reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. Analysts say the impoverished North needs good relations with Seoul to win outside investment and aid.

But the country is still sending mixed signals. It earlier threatened to stop the family reunions set for Feb. 20-25 in protest of U.S.-South Korean military drills scheduled for this month. A U.S. research institute said Thursday that North Korea has accelerated work at a site used for three previous underground nuclear test explosions, though a new test doesn't appear imminent.

Koreas agree to hold family reunions as planned 02/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, February 14, 2014 10:24pm]

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