DPRK calls for delay of S. Korea-US military drills

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) called for South Korea to delay the joint military exercises with the United States to dates after the agreed family reunion during the senior-level talks held at the border village of Panmunjeom, Seoul's Unification Ministry said Thursday.

Five-member delegations from both sides began their first high- level, inter-governmental dialogue in about seven years around 10 a.m. Wednesday local time at the Peace House, an administrative building in the South Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjeom.

The high-ranking officials held a marathon dialogue, including two rounds of plenary talks and two separate chief delegate contacts, until around 11:35 p.m. local time, but they ended the dialogue without any specific agreement.

The DPRK delegation returned home at around 00:10 a.m. Thursday local time, the ministry said. The delegation was led by Won Dong- yon, deputy head of the United Front Department of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

The South Korean delegation was headed by Kim Kyou-hyun, deputy director of the presidential national security office and former vice foreign minister.

During the senior-level talks, the DPRK linked the family reunion to the joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington, demanding the postponement of the annual drills to dates after ending the reunion event, according to the ministry.

Seoul and Pyongyang agreed last week to hold reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25 at the DPRK's scenic resort of Mount Kumgang.

Seoul's Defense Ministry said Monday that combined forces of South Korea and the United States will carry out the "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" war games from Feb. 24 to April 18, dates that overlap for two days with the family reunion event.

In response to the DPRK's demand, South Korea said that the humanitarian event cannot be connected with the military issue, refusing to accept Pyongyang's call.

The DPRK side urged the South to control local media reports, which slandered its regime and supreme dignity, which indicates the DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un.

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