Tuesday, 24 October, 2017

South Korea offers rare talks with North to avoid border conflict

South Korea offers rare talks with North to avoid border conflict South Korea offers rare talks with North to avoid border conflict
Sammy Stanley | 17 July, 2017, 16:20

South Korea has proposed holding military talks with the North in an effort to deescalate tensions after Pyongyang's latest long-range missile test.

South Korean Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo Suk proposed on Monday that defense officials from the two Koreas hold talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Friday on how to end hostile activities along the border.

"Aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border", the defence ministry said in a statement.

The dialogue was created to hold a reunion event of families, who have been separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in armistice, on the occasion of the Chuseok holiday in early October.

As another follow-up measure to Moon's initiative, the South Korean Red Cross proposed to its DPRK counterpart holding humanitarian talks on August 1 at the Peace House, a building in the South Korean side of Panmunjom. The dialogue was suspended by increased cross-border tension following the North's missile and nuclear activities.

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.

Wimbledon 2017: Martina Hingis-Jamie Murray win mixed doubles title
But when asked whether she and Kontinen will rekindle their partnership anywhere other than next year's Wimbledon, she was unsure. The Scot admitted that, had it been anyone else asking, he probably would have said no. "Now I look more at Djokovic, his game".

If realized, the talks would be the first inter-Korean dialogue since December 2015.

The Red Cross said it hoped for a positive response from its counterpart in the North; mooted family reunions in early October would be the first in two years.

Mr Cho also urged the restoration of military and government hotlines across the border, which had been cut by the North a year ago in response to the South imposing economic sanctions after a nuclear test by Pyongyang. During that period, two liberal South Korean presidents went to Pyongyang and held landmark summit talks with then-leader Kim Jong Il, the father of current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un. But analysts say North Korea may accept the defense talks because it wants the South Korean army to halt loudspeaker broadcasts at the border that began after North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

But the unification minister said the conditions for inter-Korean talks between the South and North Korean governments led by the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) "haven't been satisfied".

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.

When asked whether the South would "be flexible" on its joint military drills with the US, Cho responded that the issue was not one which Seoul had discussed directly yet.

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