North Korea has rejected South Korea's proposal to discuss a resumption of family reunions for those separated during the Korean War.
Thursday's response came three days after South Korean President Park Geun-hye expressed hopes of holding the humanitarian event some time during the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls in the last week of January.
In a statement on Thursday, the North said there had been no change in Seoul's war-like posture and said for a successful round of humanitarian exchanges to take place, the right atmosphere must be created.
Although not named directly, Pyongyang seems to be referring to the upcoming joint military exercise between Seoul and Washington that takes place annually between February and March.
It also said that in order for the two Koreas to discuss the matter of family reunions, they must also address issues raised by the North, most likely the resumption of South Korean tours to the Mount Geumgang resort.
The North, however, did not slam the door shut on family reunions altogether.
The statement said the two sides could meet for talks when the South is willing to discuss the issues proposed by the North.
South Korea's Ministry of Unification expressed regret over North Korea's rejection, saying humanitarian issues should be dealt with separately.
"It is regrettable that North Korea is linking annual military drills with humanitarian issues. South Korea maintains its stance that the issue of family reunions will be dealt with separately from the issues raised by the North."
"The unification ministry called on North Korea to accept Seoul's proposal for talks on resuming family reunions and added that the North should show its sincerity in mending ties with the South through action and not just through words.
Hwang Sung-hee, Arirang News."