The two Koreas are set to hold a second round of high-level talks on Friday to discuss Pyongyang's demand for a delay in U.S-South Korea military exercises.
The bilateral discussions will take place at the Panmunjom truce village at North Korea's request, a South Korean Unification Ministry official said. The two sides held talks on Wednesday in what was their most senior level of contact in seven years. The North has focused on plans to hold reunions of families torn apart for decades by the Korean War, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
The reunions, planned for Feb. 20-25, will overlap slightly with U.S.-South Korea military exercises set to begin on Feb. 24. Pyongyang on Wednesday demanded the maneuvers be delayed until the reunions are over. North Korea routinely opposes the annual drills and last year took its grievance to new heights -- threatening to mount nuclear attacks on South Korea and the United States, and preparing for a ballistic-missile launch that ultimately did not occur.
The South's Unification Ministry said Pyongyang representatives at the Wednesday meeting refused to discuss their government's nuclear-weapons work, saying it was "not a topic for discussion between North Korea and South Korea," the Wall Street Journal reported.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Seoul on Thursday for a visit in which he is expected to confer on the North Korean nuclear impasse, Yonhap separately reported.
Kerry and his South Korean opposite, Yun Byung-se, will use this week's visit to coordinate policy on North Korean denuclearization and deterrence matters, an unidentified U.S. official told journalists during a flight to Seoul.
U.S. officials said when Kerry travels to Beijing on Friday, he plans to lobby Chinese officials to do more to press the Kim Jong Un regime to end its atomic work, the Associated Press reported.