North Korea in threat to block family reunions

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North Korea has threatened to cancel reunions of families torn apart by the Korean War in retaliation for US-South Korean military exercises and accused Washington of raising tensions by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers near the Korean Peninsula.

The apparent about-face a day after the rival Koreas agreed on dates for the emotional meetings fits a long pattern of North Korea agreeing to things South Korea covets and then pulling back until it gets what it wants.

The impoverished North struggles to respond to the giant military exercises of its neighbour and wants to see them scaled back.

The rival Koreas decided on Wednesday to resume the family reunions, which have not been held since 2010, on February 20-25. Before the agreement, many in Seoul were sceptical Pyongyang would allow the reunions soon because of its anger over the drills scheduled later this month.

North Korea calls them preparation for war.