South Korea proposes military talks with North Korea

by Noah Mcgee July 18, 2017, 0:04
South Korea proposes military talks with North Korea

The last such meetings were held in 2015, when fewer than 100 elderly Koreans from each side were allowed to spend three days with their family members. Moon's conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye had refused to engage in substantive dialogue with Pyongyang unless it made a firm commitment to denuclearisation.

While the two Koreas have a history of failing to follow through on some rapprochement agreements struck during their rare talks, any dialogue between the rivals is considered a positive step toward easing tensions.

There are also reports of increased activity at the Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility that could indicate plutonium production underway in the a year ago to further increase the North's nuclear weapons stockpile.

Observers say chances are relatively high that the North will agree to hold the military talks although it may counter-propose a date.

With the passage of time, the number of survivors has diminished, with only around 60,000 members of divided families still left in the South. Without the hotline, the two militaries have no means of communicating quickly and directly to avoid an unintended conflict.

Moon has said he will use both dialogue and pressure to resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

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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". But he has achieved little progress, with North Korea test-firing a series of newly developed missiles.

Washington has also called on China, the North's sole ally, to put more pressure on Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions, which have advanced rapidly under leader Kim Jong-Un. It conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month, claiming to have mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile.

"We hope that the two Koreas will make efforts to break the stalemate and create conditions for a resumption of negotiations", Lu Kang, spokesman of China's foreign ministry, said at a press briefing. It is anxious about an influx of refugees and possible United States troops stationed on its border in a unified Korea.

"It would at least help let off some steam out of the current crisis, although the North would still maintain that it would not give up its weapons programmes", he said. The North will likely focus on blocking the cross-border spread of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by activists here.

South Korean army soldiers pass by military vehicles deployed in the Korean War era at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 17, 2017. South Korea offered Monday to talk with North.

The agenda for the military meeting could include moves to suspend propaganda campaigns operated on both sides of the border for years, Cheong added.


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