After a weeklong silence the two Koreas on Monday agreed to meet in the truce village of Panmunjom on Wednesday to discuss reunions of families separated by the Korean War.
Seoul hopes they can take place on Feb. 17-22 but North Korea favors a later date.
Pyongyang proposed the talks between Red Cross officials take place Wednesday or Thursday. Seoul immediately accepted and chose Wednesday.
"We'll try to hold family reunions as soon as possible," Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do said.
Prof. Yoo Ho-yeol of Korea University said the North may have dragged arranging the preparatory talks as long as possible so that the dates of the family reunions will overlap with joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises that start in late February, thus giving Pyongyang a pretext to pressure the South or cancel them.