January 9, 2015 / 10:53 AM / in 3 years

North Korea rejects call from South's parliament for talks

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea rejected on Friday a South Korean call for the resumption of stalled talks, a setback for efforts to reduce tension on the peninsula after the North Korean leader made a surprise New Year call for a summit.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a New Year's address in this January 1, 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. REUTERS/KCNA

South Korea’s parliament called last month for a resumption of negotiations on various issues including North Korea’s human rights, and families still separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

But an official at South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said the North had rejected the proposal, without giving a reason.

South Korea has also proposed inter-Korean talks be held this month, but North Korea has not yet responded to that specific offer.

The rejection of the South Korean parliament’s call comes during a period of heightened tension between North Korea and the United States, which is South Korea’s main ally.

North Korea on Thursday warned the United States of a “war disaster” if it did not withdraw sanctions imposed by Washington following a crippling hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

North Korea has denied it had any involvement in the hacking.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in a New Year’s address he was open to a summit with the South.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by James Pearson, Robert Birsel

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