May 27, 2018

South Korea offers direct talks with the North

17 July 2017, 04:23 | Rufus Hill

South Korea offers direct talks with the North

South Korea offers direct talks with the North

The move is, reportedly, part of "follow-up" measures to those proposed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in in his "Berlin Doctrine" speech last month, in which he called for Pyongyang to halt "acts of hostility around the Military Demarcation Line (MDL)" between the two Koreas.

South Korea's Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk talking to media said that meeting could be held at Tongilgak, which was earlier used to hold previous talks.

A senior official suggested that the meeting should be aimed at restricting "all hostile activities that raise military tension" at the shared border between two countries.

Seoul offered the talks on humanitarian issues to be held on August 1 in the Peace House, a building in the South Korean side of Panmunjom.

Moon has said he will use both dialogue and pressure to resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. But Moon's overture, the first formal offer of talks since his inauguration in May, indicates he wants to use dialogue to defuse the global 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.

If the talks are held, they would be the first meeting of such kind since 2015, BBC reported.

"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 Korea and the United States, its main ally, dispute the claim.

It asked Pyongyang to respond via an inter-Korean hotline, which was cut off by the North past year. During that period, two liberal South Korean presidents went to Pyongyang and held landmark summit talks with then-leader Kim Jong Il, the father of current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.

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

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.

But the unification minister said the conditions for inter-Korean talks between the South and North Korean governments led by the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) "haven't been satisfied".

When asked whether the South would "be flexible" on its joint military drills with the US, Cho responded that the issue was not one which Seoul had discussed directly yet.

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