South Korea Proposes Military, Red Cross Talks With N Korea

Elias Hubbard
July 17, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Less than two weeks after North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile test, South Korea's new president has offered to hold talks at the tense border separating the two Koreas in what would be the rivals' first face-to-face meeting since late 2015.

Seoul wants to have the rare meeting Friday at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the truce village of Panmunjom, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

The South Korean official added that the meeting aims to stop "all acts of hostility" near the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) that divides the two nations on the Korean Peninsula.

"[The South Korean government] hopes North Korea will reply to our proposal by restoring the [inter-Korean] military communication line in the region of the West Sea which is now severed", Suh said.

The North Korean government did not immediately respond to Moon's overtures.

South Korea on Monday offered military and Red Cross talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to ease military tensions along the inter-Korean border and resume humanitarian exchange between peoples of the two sides.

South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said, "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".

The Korean Red Cross plans to dispatch three representatives to the DPRK, with secretary general Kim Gunn-joong leading the delegation.

If held, it would be the first such meeting between military authorities of the two sides since a working-level meeting that failed to produce an agreement on October 15, 2014, at Panmunjom, according to Yonhap News Agency.

North Korea says South Korea abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but South Korea has said the group chose to defect of its own free will.

Seoul's olive branch comes as U.S. President Donald Trump signals frustration with the pace of efforts by China, North Korea's longtime ally and top trading partner, to pressure Kim back to the bargaining table. FILE - In this October 22, 2015, file photo, North Korean Son Kwon Geun, center, weeps with his South Korean relatives as he bids farewell after the Separated Family Reunion Meeting at Diamond Mountain resort in North Kore.

"The reunion of separated families should take precedence over any political considerations", Cho told assembled media.

South Korea did not disclose what specifically it wanted to discuss if military talks were held.

"We know that they are very sensitive about this issue because these people are getting older - effectively time is running out for them to have the opportunity to meet their family members again", she said.

"Full-fledged inter-Korean dialogue will be reviewed while watching the changes in the North's attitudes toward the issues including denuclearization and changes in the situations".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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