S.Korea proposes rare talks with the North
South Korea on Monday proposed military talks with North Korea, the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, to discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the border.
There was no immediate response by the North to the proposal. The two sides technically remain at war, but Moon, who came to power in May, has pledged to engage the North in dialogue as well as bring pressure to impede its nuclear and missile programs.
The offer comes after the North claimed to have conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, and said it had mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile.
“Talks and cooperation between the two countries to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula will be instrumental in pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea’s nuclear problem,” the South’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said.
China welcomed the proposal, saying cooperation and reconciliation between the two countries is 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 spokesperson Lu Kang told a daily press conference.
The South Korean defense ministry proposed talks with the North on July 21 at Tongilgak to stop all activities that fuel tension at the military demarcation line.
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.
The South also proposed separate talks by the rival states’ Red Cross organizations 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 will be held on August 1, with possible reunions over the Korean thanksgiving Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.