South Korea seeks rare talks with North

A scene at the inter Korean truce village Panmunjom in this file

A scene at the inter Korean truce village Panmunjom in this file

South Korea has proposed a fresh round of military talks with Pyongyang, the Defence Ministry in Seoul said Monday, in a bid to de-escalate tensions on the border.

Suh suggested the talks be held this Friday at Tongilgak, a building operated by the North Korean government in the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom. Moon's two conservative predecessors suspended large aid shipments and major cooperation projects, and cross-border communication hotlines have been shut down.

The data shows gasoline prices eased to $2.05 per kg by July 12; they are still more than double from the beginning of the year.

"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. It also offered to hold the meeting at Panmunjom.

Seoul's Red Cross says it wants separate talks at the border village on August 1 to discuss family reunions.

South Korea Proposes Military Talks with North Korea to Ease Tensions
A previous joint event was held in October 2015 to arrange the reunion of families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War. North Korea is believed to possess hundreds of missiles capable of striking South Korea and Japan.

South Korean officials have long called for holding reunions more regularly and expanding the number of people taking part. But he still has not backed off from his outreach to North Korea, arguing during a recent speech that both Koreas must stop hostile activities along the border and resume family reunions.

South Korea, however, says the workers fled of their own free will.

It is unclear if North Korea would agree to the proposed talks as it remains suspicious of the South Korean president's overtures, seeing the new leader's more liberal policy as still resorting to the USA to force North Korea to disarm.

The move is all the more shocking because North and South Korea are technically still at war.

The South Korean government under liberal President Moon Jae-in has stressed the need to reopen dialogue with the communist neighbor while also keeping sanctions in place. He is seeking to open talks with the North Korean government while supporting US -led restrictions on North Korea.

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David Petraeus, the retired general and former Central Intelligence Agency director, said the USA needs to continue tightening sanctions on North Korea to get the country's "attention" and persuade it to accept a diplomatic accord over its nuclear arsenal.

Until a breakthrough is achieved, Petraeus said, North Korea will be the centerpiece of U.S.

The unification minister refused to answer whether Seoul was considering any incentives for North Korea if it accepts, saying, "It's not right to make any predictions on such matters at this point".

If the talks are held, loudspeaker broadcasts, leafleting and South Korea-U.S. drills are expected to top the agenda. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English.

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