Seoul proposing military, family reunion talks with Pyongyang

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 17, 2017

South Korea has proposed military talks with North Korea, the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, to discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the heavily militarised border.

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.

"Aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border", the defence ministry said in a statement.

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

The proposal came roughly a week after Moon had said the need for dialogue with North Korea was more pressing than ever to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.

In an act to rein in North Korea, the U.S. is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior USA officials said last week.

"North Korea should respond to our honest proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula", said Cho Myoung-gyon, Seoul's unification minister in charge of North Korea affairs.

South Korean army soldiers pass by military vehicles deployed in the Korean War era at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 17, 2017. The last government-level talks were held in December 2015. 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 Oct. 4 declaration was the outcome of the inter-Korean summit that was held in Pyongyang in 2007 between late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader Kim Jong Un.

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.

Washington has also called on China, the North's sole ally, to put more pressure on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear ambitions, which have advanced rapidly under the North's leader, Kim Jong-un.

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.

If the talks are held, loudspeaker broadcasts, leafleting and South Korea-U.S. drills are expected to top the agenda.

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