South Korea Proposes Military Talks With North

S. Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

There was no immediate response from North Korea.

As the North's leader Kim Jong-un addressed the 7th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea in May previous year, he voiced hope for military talks with the South, saying it would serve as an opportunity for comprehensive consultations on removing possible risks of an armed clash in the border area and easing tension.

But Moon's overture, the first formal offer of talks since his inauguration in May, indicates he wants to use dialogue to defuse the worldwide standoff over North Korea's weapons programs, despite having condemned the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 4 and vowed a firm response. Official talks between the sides have not been held since December 2015.

China, which has close ties to Pyongyang despite Beijing's anger over North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, welcomed the proposal, saying cooperation and reconciliation between the two Koreas was good for everyone and could help ease tensions.

The proposed dialogue would be aimed at decreasing the tensions in the region.

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.

But Pyongyang has staged a series of missile launches in violation of United Nations resolutions - most recently on July 4 when it test-fired its first ICBM, a move which triggered global alarm and a push by US President Donald Trump to impose harsher United Nations sanctions.

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.

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Meanwhile, it's quite uncertain whether the North will return to Red Cross talks.

The two Koreas restarted Cold War-era psychological warfare after the North's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

Outside experts believe the South Korean broadcasts and leaflets sting in Pyongyang more because the authoritarian country worries that the broadcasts will demoralize front-line troops and residents and eventually weaken the grip of absolute leader Kim Jong Un.

"We hope that North and South Korea can work hard to go in a positive direction and create conditions to break the deadlock and resume dialogue and consultation", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.

Stopping hostile acts along the MDL that escalate military tensions can be a first and meaningful step, as Korea marks the 64th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement on July 27, he added.

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 will likely accept Moon's proposed talks on easing border animosities, as it's something that it's previously called for.

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