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Korea vows to ensure family reunions in talks with N. Korea

South Korea will use Friday's high-level talks with North Korea to make sure that the planned reunions for families separated since the Korean War will take place next week as scheduled regardless of military exercises with the United States, a government official said.

The two Koreas plan to hold family reunions from Feb. 20-25.

But the plan was thrown into doubt this week as North Korea said in the first high-level talks with the South in seven years that the reunions cannot take place while U.S.-South Korean military exercises are under way.

The military drills are set to kick off on Feb. 24 and will last through April. North Korea has long denounced the annual maneuvers as a rehearsal for invasion of the communist nation despite repeated assurances from Seoul and Washington that they are purely defensive in nature.

Wednesday's high-level talks ended without agreement, and the two sides will meet again Friday.

"We will make sure that the family reunions won't be hindered because of the military exercises and there won't be any disruptions to the exercises because of the reunions," the official was quoted as saying by presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook.

"No matter what happens, we will make sure that there is no possibility of the family reunions not occurring and hurting the hearts of separated families. This is the government's position." (Yonhap)