In reversal, North Korea agrees to allow family reunions

  • Updated: February 14, 2014 - 8:02 PM

North Korea agreed Friday to honor its earlier agreement to allow hundreds of elderly people separated by the Korean War six decades ago to reunite with their relatives later this month.

North Korea had threatened to scrap the reunions unless South Korea canceled the joint annual military exercises it planned to begin with the United States on Feb. 24. The North had insisted that if the South could not cancel the drills, it should postpone them so they would not overlap with the family reunions slated for Feb. 20-25.

But during the second round of border talks on Friday, North Korea retracted its demand and agreed to hold the reunions as scheduled.

The softening of the North’s stance came a day after Secretary of State John Kerry rejected Pyongyang’s demand. He urged the North not to use the defensive military exercises as an excuse to interfere with a humanitarian project.

If held, the highly emotional family reunions would mark a notable sign that relations were thawing on the peninsula after years of high tensions triggered by the North’s nuclear and missile tests, which have resulted in U.N. sanctions.

New York Times

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