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Kerry says North Korea should not link family reunions with military exercises

Published on Feb 13, 2014 8:12 PM
US Secretary of State John Kerry (left) speaks with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se during their meeting in Seoul on Feb 13, 2014. Kerry said on Thursday, Feb 13, 2014, that military exercises with South Korea later this month will be the same as drills that have been conducted over the years and North Korea should not link them with reunions of separated Korean families. -- PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday welcomed new high-level talks between North and South Korea, while warning Pyongyang against trying to derail an upcoming South Korea-US military exercise.

Mr Kerry, in Seoul to discuss North Korea's nuclear programme at the start of an Asia tour, stressed that the US would never accept the North as a nuclear state and that it would not be drawn into "talks for talks' sake" with Pyongyang.

"We've been through that exercise already, we want to know that it's real," he said, adding that North Korea had to take "meaningful action" towards denuclearisation before a dialogue could begin.

At the same time, he voiced full support for South Korean President Park Geun Hye's efforts to build trust with the North, and welcomed a recent diplomatic initiative that saw the rival Koreas meeting on Wednesday for their highest-level talks in seven years.

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