Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

South asks North to hold military talks this week

South asks North to hold military talks this week

Mr Cho also urged the restoration of military and government hotlines across the border, which had been cut by the North a year ago in response to the South imposing economic sanctions after a nuclear test by Pyongyang.

In his Berlin speech, Moon also proposed holding Red Cross talks with the DPRK for the reunion of separate families of the two Koreas on October 4 that marks the 10th anniversary of the October 4 joint declaration and also the traditional Chuseok holiday.

North and South Korea never officially signed a peace treaty, merely an armistice agreement to bring an end to the Korean War in 1953.

"North Korea must respond to our proposals honest if it is truly peace on the Korean peninsula", told reporters Cho Myoung-Gyon, south Korean minister of Unification.

The reunions are a highly emotional issue because most applicants are in their 70s or 80s and are desperate to see their loved ones before they die.

North Korea's state media hasn't immediately responded to South Korea's latest overtures. Seoul suggested that the talks between representatives of the two countries' armies be held at the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two foes on the Korean Peninsula. A senior ministry official, Suh Choo-suk, read the statement.

Tensions are now running high on the Korean Peninsula, after a year in which the North has carried out two nuclear tests and numerous ballistic missile tests despite global condemnation and United Nations sanctions.

President Moon Jae-in's proposal, made during a speech in Berlin last week, adds obstacles to achieving peace rather than helping to improve inter-Korean relations, Efe news quoted the article as saying.

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Numerous estimated 60,000 South Koreans that have signed up to participate in these sporadically held inter-Korean reunions are elderly and have had virtually no contact with relatives living in the repressive North where contact with the outside world is highly restricted.

Earlier, White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said, "The threat [from North Korea] is much more immediate now".

"After North Korea's frequent missile tests including its very first ICBM test, the worldwide community has vowed to tighten sanctions and China simply can not exclude itself from the recent movement, although it probably does not want to indefinitely cut off fuel sales to the North", Mr Kang said.

Cho stressed that Seoul "would not seek collapse of the North or unification through absorbing the North", and urged Pyongyang to restore cross-border communication channels including a shuttered military hotline.

Seoul's Unification Ministry says these latest proposals are in line with President Moon Jae-in's dual track policy to pursue both engagement with the Kim Jong Un government while also supporting US led sanctions to pressure Pyongyang to halt its nuclear and ballistic missiles programs. Pyongyang has maintained that family reunions - as well as further humanitarian cooperation - will not take place until the South returns 13 "abducted" defectors to the North.

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

The military demarcation line is the border that bisects the two Koreas.

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