South Korea proposes military talks with North Korea

South Korea's Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk reads out a statement proposing inter Korean military talks at his ministry's press room

South Korea's Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk reads out a statement proposing inter Korean military talks at his ministry's press room

China imported only 2.67 million metric tons of coal from North Korea in the first half of this year, a year-on-year drop of 74.5 percent, Huang noted.

The South also proposed separate talks by the rival states' Red Cross organizations to resume a humanitarian project to reunite families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War in closely supervised events held over a few days.

The South Korean Red Cross on Monday proposed talks with the North to discuss reunions of family members separated during the Korean War.

North Korea said on Friday it will take "corresponding measures" if the U.N. Security Council adopts another sanctions resolution in response to the North's test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week.

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If the government meeting goes ahead, it will mark the first official inter-Korea talks since December 2015.

The dialogue was aimed at stopping all hostile acts that escalate military tensions near the military demarcation line (MDL) dividing the two Koreas, the vice minister said in a statement.

By contrast, South Korea's population now stands at over 50 million, according to government statistics.

The new data reflects China's attempt to pull off a delicate balancing act between the USA and North Korea, where it wants to prevent the regime collapsing because it worries about what that would mean for regional stability.

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China has always been the North's main diplomatic defender but increasingly expresses frustration with leader Kim Jong Un's provocative behavior.

Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South previous year.

Local media speculations said the DPRK would accept the military talks with South Korea, rather than the dialogue offer for reunion of divided families, to stop propaganda broadcasts in frontline units of South Korea and anti-DPRK leaflets scattered by South Korean civic group activists toward the DPRK.

Kang Mi-jin, a defector who speaks regularly to market sources inside North Korea and reports commodity prices for Daily NK, said the price spikes in recent weeks were caused initially by the rumors - later confirmed - that China was restricting the flow of oil to North Korea. Since then, no dialogue has been held as the DPRK conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests in January and September past year and carried out a number of ballistic missile test-launches.

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

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