South Korea on Monday proposed military talks with North Korea on July 21, Reuters reported. There was no immediate response by North Korea to the proposal.
“Talks and cooperation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea’s nuclear problem,” South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said. If the North accepts the proposal, the talks will be the first under new South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
The talks, which seek to stop all activities that fuel tension at the demarcation line between the South and the North, will be held in Tongilgak, a North Korean building at the Panmunjom village on the border used for previous inter-Korea talks. The last such talks were held in December 2015.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had proposed such talks in a speech in May 2016. But the then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye rejected the offer, and demanded that the North first begin dismantling its nuclear weapons programme.
South Korea’s Monday offer comes after North Korea claimed to have conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4. It claimed it had mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile. The United States and South Korea have disputed this claim.
On Monday, South Korean Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk called on the North to restore a military hotline that Pyongyang cut off in 2016, reported The New York Times.
Reunion of Korean relatives proposed
On Monday, the South Korean Red Cross Society proposed a meeting at Panmunjom on August 1 with its North Korean counterpart. The meeting aims to arrange reunions of relatives in the two countries, who have not seen each other since being separated during the Korean War.
The last such reunions were held in October 2015. The North has said that it would not allow them to take place again unless the South sends 12 North Korean waitresses back to the country. Kim Jong-un’s government has also demanded the return of Kim Ryen-hi, a North Korean defector to the South.