ROK offers DPRK military, Red Cross talks
SEOUL — The Republic of Korea offered on Monday to hold military and Red Cross talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to ease tensions along their shared border and resume humanitarian exchanges.
ROK Defense Vice-Minister Suh Choo-suk said in a statement that the ROK proposed holding talks among military authorities on Friday at Tongilgak, a building on the DPRK side of the truce village of Panmunjom.
The dialogue would be aimed at stopping hostile acts that escalate military tensions near the military demarcation line dividing the two sides, the vice-minister said.
Suh called on the DPRK to restore the military communications line in the western region to send a reply, hoping for a positive response.
The overture was a followup measure to ROK President Moon Jae-in’s peace initiative made in Berlin on July 6 to stop all hostile acts along the border on July 27, the 64th anniversary of the cease-fire agreement ending hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War.
In his Berlin speech, Moon also proposed holding Red Cross talks with the DPRK for the reunion of families divided by the two sides on Oct 4, which marks 10 years since a joint declaration as well as the traditional Chuseok holiday.
China has noted the development, and hopes the DPRK and the R OK will create conditions for resuming talks, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a daily news conference in Beijing on Monday.
China also hopes all relevant parties will understand and support the effort as well as play a constructive role in properly solving the peninsula’s nuclear issue, Lu said.
China always has believed it’s in the best interests of both the DPRK and the ROK to improve their ties through talks and work for reconciliation and cooperation, the spokesman said.
Such moves also will help ease tensions on the peninsula and promote peace, stability and security in the region, Lu said.
The Oct 4 declaration was the outcome of an inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang in 2007 between ROK president Roh Moo-hyun and DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, father of current leader Kim Jong Un.
As another follow-up measure to Moon’s initiative, the South Korean Red Cross proposed to its DPRK counterpart to hold humanitarian talks on Aug 1 at the Peace House, a building in the ROK side of Panmunjom. It was designed to hold a reunion event for families, who have been separated since the 195053 war resulted in armistice on the occasion of the Chuseok holiday in early October.
The most recent inter-Korean contact was at vice-ministerial-level talks in December 2015. Since then, no dialogue has been held, as the DPRK conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests in January and September last year and carried out a number of ballistic missile test-launches.
If the DPRK accepts the proposal, it would mark the first inter-Korean talks since President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10.
Local media speculated that the DPRK would accept the military talks with the ROK rather than the dialogue offer for a reunion of divided families.