South Kore­ans pro­pose sum­mit

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

SOUTH Korea yes­ter­day of­fered to hold rare mil­i­tary talks with the North, aim­ing to ease ten­sions af­ter Py­ongyang tested its first in­ter­con­ti­nen­tal bal­lis­tic mis­sile.

The of­fer of talks, the first since South Korea elected dovish Pres­i­dent Moon Jae- In, came as the Red Cross in Seoul pro­posed a sep­a­rate meet­ing to dis­cuss re­unions of fam­i­lies split by the 1950- 53 Korean War.

The South’s de­fence min­istry pro­posed a meet­ing to be held on Fri­day at the bor­der truce vil­lage of Pan­munjom, while the Red Cross of­fered to hold talks on Au­gust 1 at the same venue.

If the Gov­ern­ment meet­ing goes ahead, it will mark the first of­fi­cial in­ter- Korea talks since De­cem­ber 2015.

Mr Moon’s con­ser­va­tive pre­de­ces­sor, Park Geun- Hye, had re­fused to en­gage in di­a­logue with Py­ongyang un­less the iso­lated regime made a tan­gi­ble com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion.

“We make the pro­posal for a meet­ing ... aimed at stop­ping all hos­tile ac­tiv­i­ties that es­ca­late mil­i­tary ten­sion along the land bor­der,” the de­fence min­istry said in a state­ment.

The Red Cross said it hoped for “a pos­i­tive re­sponse” from its coun­ter­part in the North, hop­ing to hold fam­ily re­unions in early Oc­to­ber. If re­alised, they would be the first in two years.

Mil­lions of fam­i­lies were sep­a­rated by the con­flict that sealed the di­vi­sion of the two coun­tries. Many died with­out get­ting a chance to see or hear from their fam­i­lies on the other side of the heav­ily for­ti­fied bor­der, across which all civil­ian com­mu­ni­ca­tion is banned.

With the pas­sage of time, the num­ber of sur­vivors has di­min­ished, with only around 60,000 left in the South.

Mr Moon, who took power in May, has ad­vo­cated di­a­logue with the nu­clear- armed North as a means of bring­ing it to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble as ten­sions soar over its weapons am­bi­tions.

But Py­ongyang has staged a se­ries of mis­sile launches in vi­o­la­tion of the UN, most re­cently on July 4 when it test­fired its first ICBM, a move that trig­gered a push by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for harsher UN sanc­tions.

It has also been re­vealed North Korea has pro­duced more plu­to­nium for its weapons pro­gram than pre­vi­ously thought, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port.

Ther­mal im­ages of its main nu­clear fa­cil­ity ap­pear to show it has re­pro­cessed spent fuel rods at least twice be­tween last Sep­tem­ber and June this year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.