South Korea proposes rare military talks with North Korea
South Korea has proposed holding military talks with
the North, after weeks of heightened tension following Pyongyang's
long-range missile test.
If they were to go ahead, they would be the first
high-level talks since 2015.
A senior official said talks should aim to stop "all
hostile activities that raise military tension" at the fortified border
between the Koreas.
South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has long signalled
he wants closer engagement with the North.
North Korea has not responded to the South's proposal
In a recent speech in Berlin, Mr Moon said dialogue
with the North was more pressing than ever and called for a peace treaty
to be signed.
He said such dialogue was crucial for those who seek
the end of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.
However, the North's frequent missile tests, including
the most recent one of an intercontinental ballistic missile, are in
consistent violation of UN resolutions and have alarmed its neighbours
and the US.
South Korea's Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk told
a media briefing that talks could be held at Tongilgak, a North Korean
building in the Panmunjom compound in the demilitarised zone between the
two countries, which was used to host previous talks.
He proposed that the talks be held on 21 July, and
said: "We expect a positive response from the North."
South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon
also urged the restoration of communication hotlines between the two
Koreas, cut last year after a North Korean nuclear test.
The BBC's Karen Allen in Seoul says the ultimate aim
of these talks would be to end the military confrontation that has
dominated relations between the two Koreas for decades.
But it could begin with confidence-building measures
such as ending the infamous loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the
border, she says.
The Red Cross and the government have also proposed a
separate meeting, aimed at discussing how to hold reunions of families
separated by the Korean War, which ended in 1953.
But analysts say these could be highly fraught with
Pyongyang still angry at the South's unwillingness to repatriate
Courtesy : BBC News
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