South asks North to hold military talks this week

Patrice Gainsbourg
Julho 18, 2017

At the start of the meeting, Kang said that human rights in North Korea remains to be a "matter of great concern" to the South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in and the stance will remain in its discussion at the United Nations going forward.

"The Chinese government has always adhered to a stance that improving relations between the two countries (North and South Korea) is in line with their fundamental principles and also contributes to calm and improving situation on the Korean Peninsula", the diplomat said.

The proposals were separately announced to local media by the Ministry of National Defense and the Korean Red Cross, the latter of which organizes the family reunions.

That's right, Mark. South Korea's Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk proposed inter-Korean military talks this morning as a way to reduce tensions along the heavily-fortified border. Seoul began blaring anti-Pyongyang broadcasts and K-Pop songs via border loudspeakers, and Pyongyang responded with its own border broadcasts and launches of balloons carrying anti-South leaflets.

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The proposed talks - which would be held Friday in the border town of Panmunjom, if accepted - would be the first face-to-face meeting between the two sides since 2015. "The last such reunions were almost two years ago". The ministry, which gave no agenda for the talks, said it was still waiting for an answer from Pyongyang. Analysts are predicting that if the inter-Korean military talks do take place, the two sides will agree to restore their June 4 agreement under the Roh Moo-hyun administration in 2004, in which they pledged to "prevent unintended clashes in the West (Yellow) Sea, halt propaganda activities at the MDL, and remove means of propaganda".

The South Korean Red Cross suggested talks be held on August 1, with possible reunions over the Korean thanksgiving Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.

Continued North Korea provocations, however, is pushing Washington toward stepping up unilateral sanctions, a move Beijing has opposed. But the North might set a precondition for the talks, such as a suspension of annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal, according to Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University.

Moon's four-point peace vision, described in a speech on July 6 at the Koerber Foundation in Berlin, during his trip to Germany for the Group of 20 summit, included the ease of military tensions near the inter-Korean border, a reunion of families separated by the Korean War, North Korea's participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics and inter-Korean dialogue.

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