SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Thursday expressed regret over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s rejection of its offer to hold talks on resuming the reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, the unification ministry said Thursday.
The unification ministry expressed regret to DPRK for linking military drills to a humanitarian issue, spokesperson from the ministry Kim Eui-do said, urging Pyongyang to back up its words with real work to show its sincerity
South Korea has received a notification from DPRK's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea which queried if the reunions could be held in peace due to South Korea's "war drills" and planned joint military exercises, the Yonhap news agency reported Thursday.
The notification also said "if there is no other thing happening in the south side and if the south side has intent to discuss the proposals of our side, both sides can sit together in a good season and discuss the matter".
South Korea said Pyongyang's demands may refer to its repeated calls for talks aimed at resuming a tour program to Mount Kumgang, a scenic mountain resort on North Korea's east coast.
The spokesperson said the South Korean government has reiterated for several times that it insists the stance of dealing with family reunion issues and resuming a tour program to Mount Kumgang separately.
The two sides agreed to hold family reunions at Mount Kumgang last year but Pyongyang abruptly canceled the agreement at the last minute.
The tour to the mountain resort, launched in 1998, was halted in July 2008 when a South Korean female tourist was shot dead by a DPRK solider for venturing into an off-limit area.
The DPRK has since repeatedly called for resuming the tour program. But South Korea said that the tour can be resumed only when causes and responsibilities for the suspension are made clear and responsible measures are taken to prevent another incident.
DPRK's rejection came three days after South Korean President Park Geun-hye called for a resumption of talks of the reunions around Lunar New Year's Day.
South Korea's unification ministry on Monday formally offered to hold a working-level meeting over the issue.
The ministry said it had sent a message to the DPRK, suggesting to hold talks on Thursday at the truce village of Panmunjeom.
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