North and South Korea are to hold family reunions this month as planned, the South Korean government said on Friday.

The two sides also agreed to stop slandering each other in order to build trust, it added.

The agreements followed another session of their highest-ranking talks for years held at the border village of Panmunjom.

Talks at the same location ended without agreement on Wednesday.

There had been fears that North Korea would call off the events bringing together relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The main stumbling block was a demand by North Korea that annual military manoeuvres by US and South Korean forces be postponed.

Pyongyang wanted the exercises to be put off until after the family reunions, but Seoul rejected the demand.

North Korea sees the manoeuvres as provocative and says they are a rehearsal for an invasion, an accusation denied by the United States and South Korea.

The Koreas agreed last week to hold another round of reunions, scheduled to take place at the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea between February 20 and 25.

The family gatherings are a sensitive and emotional issue for the two countries. Contact across their border through letters, emails or phone calls is usually impossible.

The two Koreas have allowed temporary reunions of selected divided families on a handful of occasions since a 2000 summit.

Ties between North and South Korea have been strained since Pyongyang carried out its third atomic test in February last year.

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