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North Korea cancels family reunions over South's 'hostility'

North Korea has postponed reunions between family members split apart by its conflict with the South in the 1950s. The meetings, last held in 2010m had been seen as a sign of a thawing of bilateral relations.

Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea announced in a statement reported by the official KCNA news agency that it had ordered the meetings tenmporarily canceled because of what it described as the South's "hostile" attitude.

"The reunions of separated families and relatives between the North and the South will be postponed until there can be a normal atmosphere where dialogue and negotiations can be held," the statement read.

The statement accused the South Korea's conservatives of "abuse" and concluded that "a basic humanitarian issue as family reunions cannot be resolved" until such behavior ceased.

The statement also attacked the South Korean armed forces' recent joint military exercises with the US.

There was no immediate response from South Korea's Unification Ministry.

The family reunions, which had been due to begin next Wednesday at the Mount Kumgang resort just on North Korea's side of the border, would have been the first of their kind in nearly three years.

They had been seen as just another symbol of a thaw in relations, after heightened antagonism between the two Koreas. Earlier this week, Pyongyang and Seoul moved to reopen a jointly operated industrial complex, also located just over the border in the North.

Pyongyang had ramped up tensions on the Korean Peninsula for months after the United Nations adopted stricter sanctions on the communist state back in February, when the North conducted a third nuclear test.

The 1950-53 Korean War partitioned the peninsula, ultimately coming to a stop with a ceasefire to end the bloodshed. However, no peace agreement has ever been signed and the two countries remain technically at war.

pfd/mkg (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)