South Korea proposes military talks with North Korea

South Korea proposed resuming some military and humanitarian exchanges with North Korea as President Moon Jae-in seeks to follow through on campaign pledges to pursue dialogue with Kim Jong Un.

The South is pushing for another round of reunions between elderly people who were separated after the 1950-53 Korean War.

Seoul wants to hold a meeting Friday in the truce village of Panmunjom aimed at halting "all acts of hostility" near the Military Demarcation Line that divides peninsula, the defense ministry said Monday.

South Korea on Monday proposed talks with North Korea over military and Red Cross affairs, China's Xinhua news agency reported. Moon's conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye had refused to engage in substantive dialogue with Pyongyang unless it made a firm commitment to denuclearisation.

The most recent reunion of divided families was held in October 2015, and it remains unclear whether the inter-Korean meeting will take place. It was the Moon government's first formal proposal for talks with North Korea since its May 10 inauguration.

Millions of family members were separated by the conflict that sealed the division of the two countries.

"And perhaps, if that went well, then it would set the scene for the Red Cross to be able to talk a bit more about the possibility of having family reunions this year", said Novak.

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Asked whether Seoul was open to talks on halting joint military drills with the United States, which Pyongyang has persistently demanded in the past, Cho said only that the two Koreas would "freely discuss matters of mutual interest".

Through the olive branch to follow up on Moon's peace overture, the South hopes to lay the groundwork for easing tension and opening additional dialogue meant to persuade it to suspend provocations, freeze its weapons of mass destruction program and expand inter-Korean economic cooperation.

The North's latest ICBM launch has stoked security worries as it showed the country could eventually flawless a reliable nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.

Seoul's olive branch comes as US President Donald J. Trump signals frustration with the pace of efforts by China, North Korea's long-time ally and top trading partner, to pressure Kim back to the bargaining table.

It conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, claiming to have mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile. He said now was North Korea's last best chance to change direction.

"They would at least help relieve some of the pressure of the current crisis, even if the North maintained that he did not intend to abandon its military programs", he said.

  • Sonia Alvarado