Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

South Korea proposes rare military talks with North at Panmunjom

Japan says time for pressure not dialogue with Japan says time for pressure not dialogue with
Kenny Thornton | 17 July, 2017, 16:20

The offer comes after the North claimed to have conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, and said it had mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile.

North and South Korea remain technically at war since the 1953, when an armistice agreement ended the war but no truce was signed.

Who is Moon Jae-in, South Korea's new president? In past meetings, North Korea has demanded that the South stop holding joint military exercises with the United States and end the use of loudspeakers to broadcast propaganda along the border.

Cho stressed that Seoul "would not seek collapse of the North or unification through absorbing the North" and urged Pyongyang to restore inter-Korea communication channels, including a shuttered military hotline.

South Korea on Monday offered military and Red Cross talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to ease military tensions along the inter-Korean border and resume humanitarian exchange between peoples of the two sides.

Elected in May 2017 with promises of engagement, Moon reiterated his preference at the G20 summit in Hamburg in early July for dialogue with the north despite its "nuclear provocation". The North recently voiced suspicion over Moon's North Korea policy, and some conservatives in South Korea worry that his overture might weaken global pressure on North Korea.

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If the talks are held, they would be the first meeting of such kind since 2015, BBC reported. The Rodong Sinmun said a "fundamental shift" in policy was needed to reassure North Korea of Moon's intentions.

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.

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

Chances for talks on family reunions are slimmer as North Korea has already made it clear that it won't agree to a fresh reunion program unless Seoul returns some of the North Korean defectors living in the South who it says were abducted by South Korean agents.

"The President has directed us to not do that and to prepare a range of options, including a military option, which nobody wants to take".

If the meeting is to take place as planned, it would be the first dialogue between the military authorities of the two sides in nearly three years; their previous meeting was held on October 15, 2014.

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