Published: Mon, July 17, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Seoul Seeks New Talks With North Korea, Hoping To Tamp Down Tensions

Seoul Seeks New Talks With North Korea, Hoping To Tamp Down Tensions

A senior ministry official, Suh Choo-suk, read the statement, which did not provide specific items that would be on the agenda or say who would participate in the talks.

South Korea is willing to put North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test aside and work together with the DPRK to ease heightening tensions and resume reuniting families who were separated by their war in the 1950s, according to Fox news.

The last time the arch-rivals held military-level talks to ease tensions was in 2014 but they failed to reach an agreement then.

Tensions are now running high on the Korean Peninsula, after a year in which the North has carried out two nuclear tests and numerous ballistic missile tests despite worldwide condemnation and United Nations sanctions.

South Korea on Monday proposed talks with North Korea over military and Red Cross affairs, China's Xinhua news agency reported. "[The government] is looking forward to a positive response from the North Korean side".

The Oct. 4 declaration was the outcome of the inter-Korean summit that was held in Pyongyang in 2007 between late South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and late DPRK leader Kim Jong Il, father of the current leader Kim Jong Un.

President Moon Jae-in's proposal, made during a speech in Berlin last week, adds obstacles to achieving peace rather than helping to improve inter-Korean relations, Efe news quoted the article as saying.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has long signaled he wants closer engagement with the North.

Al Jazeera's Kathy Novak, reporting from Seoul, said family separation is seen as a "very pressing and emotional humanitarian issue", - particularly in South Korea. The ministry also did not elaborate what it meant by hostile military activities.

The two parties could at these meetings to negotiate, particularly in a first time the end of the propaganda operations carried out from both sides of the border, he estimated.

Kim Sun-hyang, acting president of the South's Red Cross, suggested a meeting with its northern counterpart on August 1 at the Peace House, Panmunjom's southern conference building.

He singled out a group of 12 who fled while working at a North Korean restaurant in China previous year, and Kim Ryon-hui, a defector who requested to go back to her homeland in 2015. If realised, they would be the first for two years. His statement suggested he will order more missile and nuclear tests until North Korea develops a functioning ICBM that can place the entire USA within its striking distance.

But the vice minister declined to specify which acts of hostility were being referred to, but said that Seoul and Pyongyang would discuss the issues "in a comprehensive manner".

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