Cho also urged the restoration of military and government hotlines across the border, which had been cut by the North last year in response to the South imposing economic sanctions after a nuclear test by Pyongyang. In all, the North has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests.
The South also proposed separate talks by the rival states’ Red Cross organisations to resume a humanitarian project to reunite families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War in closely supervised events held over a few days.
The South Korean Red Cross suggested talks be held on Aug 1, with possible reunions over the Korean thanksgiving Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.
The last such reunions were held in October 2015 during the government of Moon’s predecessor under a futile push for reconciliation following a sharp increase in tension over border incidents involving a landmine blast and artillery fire.
China, which has close ties to Pyongyang despite Beijing’s anger over North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, welcomed the proposal, saying cooperation and reconciliation between the two Koreas was good for everyone and could help ease tensions.
“We hope that North and South Korea can work hard to go in a positive direction and create conditions to break the deadlock and resume dialogue and consultation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.
Meanwhile, the European Union is considering tougher sanctions on North Korea over its first intercontinental ballistic missile test to prevent the isolated country from funding further nuclear weapons development.
In a statement Monday, the EU’s executive arm condemned the test earlier this month as a “serious threat to international peace and security” and urged an end to such actions.
In addition to existing sanctions, the statement said, the EU “will consider further appropriate responses” in coordination with allies and UN efforts.
The EU also offered European support for South Korean efforts to negotiate with North Korea.
The missile launch has stoked international security fears. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would never negotiate his weapons programs unless the United States abandons its hostile policy toward his country.