South Korea proposes inter-Korean military talks to thaw cross-border tension

Frederick Owens
July 17, 2017

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.

In an act to rein in North Korea, the USA is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior United States officials said last week.

"Concerning this, the Korean Red Cross proposes to hold an inter-Korean Red Cross talks on August 1 at the Peace House in Panmunjom to resolve the humanitarian issues such as holding a family reunion events on the occasion of Chuseok", Acting President of the Korean Red Cross Kim Sun-hyang told media at a news conference.

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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.

Tongilgak is a North Korean building at the Panmunjom truce village on the border used for previous inter-Korea talks.

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.

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After the North announced the successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4, Harris said it is getting "closer to being able to deliver a nuclear-equipped missile" to the USA mainland.

The election in May of Mr. Moon, a liberal human-rights lawyer, ended decades of conservative dominance in South Korea. But his push has reported little progress with the North test-firing a series of newly developed missiles since Moon's May 10 inauguration.

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.

Outside experts believe the South Korean broadcasts and leaflets sting in Pyongyang more because the authoritarian country worries that the broadcasts will demoralize front-line troops and residents and eventually weaken the grip of absolute leader Kim Jong Un.

Previously, Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South past year.

The sporadically held reunions last took place at a mountain resort in North Korea in October 2015, when hundreds of elderly Koreans and their family members met their long-lost relatives for the first time since they were split during the Korean War.

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