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(LEAD) S. Korea slams NK for linking joint military drills to family reunion

2015/08/19 18:32

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 4 paras)

SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- The Unification Ministry denounced North Korea Wednesday for demanding ongoing military drills between South Korea and the United States be suspended as a condition for permitting a reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

North Korea on Tuesday urged Seoul and Washington to suspend their joint military drills, linking the issue to whether it will accept Seoul's offer for holding the reunion.

Jeong Joon-hee, the ministry's spokesman, slammed the North's tactics.

"The joint military exercises are transparent and regular, with a defensive purpose. The issue of the family reunion should be handled from a humanitarian perspective as it guarantees urgency," Jeong told a regular press briefing. "The Seoul government believes that the North's move is overstretched and improper."

   South Korea and the U.S. kicked off their annual joint military drills on Monday, which Pyongyang called a "declaration of war" and denounced as a war rehearsal for an invasion of the North.

President Park Geun-hye said last week that South Korea will send the North a list of about 60,000 family members for possible reunions with their relatives in North Korea.

North Korea raised its verbal attack against Park, calling her "a trouble-maker."

   "No matter how glittering make-up she may put, it is too late to prevent the foul smell from reeking off from her body interwoven with sycophancy, treachery, confrontation and hostility," the North's Joint National Organization of Working People said in a statement.

North Korea vehemently blamed Park for escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, claiming that it is Park who has rejected the North's offer for dialogue with the South.

On June 15, North Korea proposed conditional talks with the South, calling for the suspension of the South's joint military drills with the United States.

Seoul has rejected the North's offer and urged Pyongyang to come to the talks "without laying out improper preconditions."

   sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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