South Korea Proposes Military Talks with North Korea to Ease Tensions

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

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

North Korea raised the stakes earlier this month with a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that its defence officials said marked the "final step" in creating a "confident and powerful nuclear state that can strike anywhere on earth".

New images have been released from the Korean War.

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One possible sticking point is South Korea's idea that the talks would put an end to "hostile military activities", a term North and South Korea define very differently. Seoul's acting Red Cross chief Kim Sun Hyang said it wants separate talks at the border village on August 1 to discuss family reunions. 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.

Reuters also notes that North Korea has demanded the return of twelve waitresses who defected to South Korea past year as a precondition for talks.

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"Talks and cooperation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea's nuclear problem", said South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, as quoted by Reuters. A previous joint event was held in October 2015 to arrange the reunion of families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War.

China views South Korea's offer to hold military and Red Cross talks with North Korea as "positive messages", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday. But his push has reported little progress with the North test-firing a series of newly developed missiles since Moon's May 10 inauguration.

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North Korea is believed to possess hundreds of missiles capable of striking South Korea and Japan. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would never negotiate his weapons programs unless the US abandons its hostile policy toward his country. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea.

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