North Korea said it wasn't sending its officials to Seoul for the two-day meeting that was to begin Wednesday because the South had changed the head of its delegation, Kim Hyung-suk, a spokesman for Seoul's Unification Ministry, told reporters in a briefing. The ministry is in charge of North Korea matters.
There had been hope that the talks on reviving two high-profile economic cooperation projects would allow the countries to move past a relationship marred by recent North Korean threats of nuclear war and South Korean vows of counterstrikes. But the collapse over what's essentially a protocol matter is testament to the difficulty the countries have in finding common ground.
South Korea had originally wanted a minister-level meeting between the top officials responsible for inter-Korean affairs, but Pyongyang wouldn't commit to that. The last minister-level meeting between the Koreas occurred in 2007.
When Seoul told Pyongyang on Tuesday that it was sending a lower-level official than it had initially proposed in preparatory talks, North Korea said it would consider that a "provocation," Kim said.
The cancellation of talks arises partly from misunderstandings that the sides have about who is equivalent to whom in power between their largely different political systems, Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea scholar at Seoul's Dongguk University, said.
"The two sides are offended by each other now. The relations may again undergo a cooling-off period before negotiations for further talks resume," he said.
North Korea did not immediately issue its own statement about the canceled talks.
The talks were set up in a painstaking 17-hour negotiating session Sunday, but the rivals had set aside the issue of who would lead North Korea's delegation. Kim said that on Tuesday, North Korea offered to send a senior official of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea as chief delegate, and Seoul said it would send its vice unification minister as chief delegate.
South Korea had previously proposed sending its unification minister. After it announced the vice minister would go instead, North Korea said it wouldn't send anyone and that "all responsibility is entirely on South Korea," Kim said. He added that Seoul is still open to talks if North Korea reconsiders.
The main goal of the planned talks had been to see if the Koreas could restore economic projects that were born in the "sunshine era," a 10-year period ending in 2008 when South Korea was ruled by liberal presidents who shipped large quantities of aid to Pyongyang as they sought to improve ties. The last of those projects, a North Korean factory complex run with North Korean workers and South Korean managers and capital, shut down this spring.
North Korea also wanted Seoul to restart an era of rapprochement by commemorating past joint statements on reunification and joint economic cooperation efforts. But Seoul balked at this; it has demanded apologies for past bloodshed before allowing such exchanges.
North Korea's interest in talks followed its longstanding cycle of alternating between provocative behavior and attempts to seek dialogue in what analysts say are efforts to win outside concessions.
After U.N. sanctions were strengthened following North Korea's third nuclear test in February, the country, which is estimated to have a handful of crude nuclear devices, threatened nuclear war and missile strikes against Seoul and Washington. North Korea has also conducted recent nuclear tests and long-range rocket launches.
Some observers believe Pyongyang was trying to ease ties with Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing as a way to win coveted talks with Washington, which it believes could grant it aid and security guarantees.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye has made trust-building with Pyongyang a hallmark of her nascent rule, even as she vows strong counterstrikes to any North Korean attacks.
There was skepticism in Seoul about the talks even before they collapsed.
"We cannot be overly hopeful about inter-Korean relations, which reached a new low not long ago," the conservative Korea JoongAng Daily said in an editorial Tuesday. "We have experienced numerous setbacks during past talks with Pyongyang."
___ AP writer Foster Klug in Seoul contributed to this report.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Cleveland Indians two-time All-Star closer Chris Perez and his wife pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor possession charges after marijuana was mailed to their home in their dog's name.
The pleas were sent by fax to suburban Rocky River Municipal Court by their attorneys.
The faxed pleas included a request that a requirement that the couple appear in person for a June 19 arraignment be dropped.
Police said they were tipped off by postal inspectors to suspicious packages mailed to the Perez home and arranged a delivery last Tuesday under surveillance. Police say Melanie Perez accepted two packages.
Authorities say Melanie Perez, whose maiden name is Baum, told the undercover officer delivering the packages that they were intended for her dog, named Brody. The package was addressed to Brody Baum.
According to investigative reports, Perez told drug agents with a search warrant that he had pot for personal use and pointed out two jars. Asked about any drugs or weapons by officers who went to the Perez home, Perez "volunteered to direct the officers to the location of it," an investigative report said.
The 27-year-old Perez and his 29-year-old wife were charged Friday with misdemeanor drug possession involving just over one-third of a pound of marijuana. Perez and his wife were released on personal bond.
Outside legal experts say the charge typically is handled like a traffic ticket and might result in a fine.
Under the drug agreement between Major League Baseball and its players' association, marijuana offenses generally result with the player undergoing a treatment program rather than discipline.
Perez has six saves this season but is on the disabled list with an injured right shoulder.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Tim Tebow finally has a new team.
The New England Patriots announced the signing of the polarizing quarterback with the poor throwing motion on Tuesday, six weeks after he was cut by the New York Jets and just in time for the start of the three-day minicamp that runs through Thursday.
Tebow, 25, is being reunited with Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator who was Denver's head coach when the Broncos traded into the first round to take him with the 25th draft pick in 2010.
There is no guarantee that Tebow will still be with the Patriots when training camp begins next month, but if the Patriots keep him, he would have time to develop as a quarterback since Tom Brady holds that job. Tebow even could be tried at tight end, where the status of Rob Gronkowski is uncertain after he had his fourth operation on his broken left forearm on May 20 and faces back surgery this month.
Tebow's NFL career appeared to be over when the Jets released him on April 29 and no team rushed to sign him. But Patriots coach Bill Belichick decided to bring in the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner who led Florida to two national championships.
After the NFL draft, in which they selected quarterback Geno Smith from West Virginia, the Jets decided to release Tebow just more than a year after a dressed-up, high-profile press conference that welcomed him to the organization.
New York went 6-10 last season, lost its final three games and finished tied for last place in the AFC East with Buffalo. New England, meanwhile, went 12-4, won the division and advanced to the AFC title game.
"I felt like it was a learning opportunity for me. There was a lot that I'll take from it," Tebow said at the end of the season. "There's a lot that I learned, and there are lot of relationships that I've built, so I know that it happened for a reason."
Now, he joins a rival who swept the Jets last season, including an embarrassing 49-19 loss that New York endured at home on Thanksgiving night.
"We have a great deal of respect for Tim Tebow. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we all had hoped," Jets coach Rex Ryan said in April. "Tim is an extremely hard worker, evident by the shape he came back in this offseason. We wish him the best moving forward."
The last time Tebow threw a pass in Foxborough, Denver lost in the divisional playoff round to the Patriots 45-10 in the 2011 season. He completed 9 of 26 passes for 136 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and five sacks in that game and gained 13 yards on five rushes.
When he was traded to the Jets with great fanfare in March 2012, there was speculation he might replace Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback. But when Sanchez struggled, he was replaced by Greg McElroy late in the season. Tebow threw only eight passes all year and played primarily as the protector for the Jets' punter.
Tebow's presence on the team and absence from the field fed a media frenzy in New York.
The spotlight will be dimmer in Foxborough where Belichick tightly controls which players can talk to the media and what they can say. When they go beyond those limits, Belichick sometimes forbids them from talking with reporters.
Former Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist sees the logic in the Patriots' decision to bring Tebow to minicamp.
"If you can find a club that's mature enough to handle it as an organization, then you're going to find the right spot for him," Sundquist said. "What I mean by that is all the media mania and that sort of thing. The club says, `Look, this is the reason we're bringing him on. We feel he can bring X, Y, Z and A, B, C to the table.'
"Explain it to Tim, explain it to the media, explain it to your fan base and explain it to your organization."
The Patriots run a complex offense and Tebow had trouble grasping the strategy in Denver. But the presence of McDaniels could help him.
"If there's one guy in the NFL who's a fan of Tim Tebow or pulling for him, it would be Josh McDaniels," said former Jets and Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody, now an ESPN analyst.
"I think they'll take their time developing him," Woody said. "The Patriots are one of those teams that like to develop guys, and they'll even trade them if it works in their favor. In the more immediate future, having played in New England, I know one thing they value is versatility. They're going to try to use Tebow in positions where they feel they can maximize his talent."
As an NFL rookie in 2010, Tebow threw just 82 passes in nine games, starting three.
In 2011, he started 11 games and threw for 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He led Denver to a wild-card win over Pittsburgh before the divisional loss to New England.
He was traded to New York after that season when Denver signed Peyton Manning. With the Jets, Tebow completed six of eight passes and ran 32 times for 102 yards.
In addition to Brady, the Patriots also have Ryan Mallett at quarterback already, but they released Mike Kafka on Monday.
The 2007 winner of the Heisman as a sophomore at Florida, Tebow has 2,422 passing yards and a 75.3 rating as an NFL quarterback.