South Korea proposes inter-Korean military talks to thaw cross-border tension

Violet Powell
July 17, 2017

"[The government] is looking forward to a positive response from the North Korean side".

The North's ICBM launch has stoked security worries as it showed the country could eventually ideal a reliable nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States. In past meetings, North Korea has demanded that the South stop holding joint military exercises with the United States and end the use of loudspeakers to broadcast propaganda along the border.

"We make the proposal for a meeting. aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border", the country's defense ministry said in a statement, according to the Agence France-Presse news service.

The North has repeatedly announced its refusal to hold family reunion talks with Seoul, unless the South returns 13 people who Pyongyang says are abducted.

The latest ICBM test - which Kim described as a "gift" to the Americans - was seen as a milestone in Pyongyang's quest to build a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that can hit the USA mainland.

Separately, South Korean authorities also offered to restart Red Cross talks on August 1, to discuss options to resume family reunions on the Chuseok holiday in early October.

The humanitarian organization would like to resume work to reunite families that were separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

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A mock North Korea's Scud-B missile, center left, and other South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 17, 2017.

The proposals come after Moon said at the G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month that he was in favor of dialogue with the North despite the "nuclear provocation" of its latest missile test.

After the launch, the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said he would never negotiate his weapons programmes unless the United States abandons its hostile policy toward his country. It is anxious about an influx of refugees and possible U.S. troops stationed on its border in an unified Korea. Since no truce was agreed, the two sides remain technically at war.

South Korea's Defense Ministry has asked that the inter-Korean military communication line in the western region be restored, and that North Korea responds to their offer through it.

North Korea has said that the 12 female workers involved in a mass-defection to South Korea in April past year and Kim Ryon Hui - who has said she wishes to return to her homeland after, she claims, mistakenly defecting in 2011 - must be returned to the North.

Harris told the Asahi Shimbun daily that efforts to solve the North Korean nuclear issue by diplomatic means and sanctions will continue, but military options are always on the table and can be put into action at any time.

There are also reports of increased activity at the Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility that could indicate plutonium production underway in the previous year to further increase the North's nuclear weapons stockpile.

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