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NUKEWARS
No response from North Korea as proposed talks loom: Seoul
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) July 20, 2017


S. Korea urges North to respond to military talks offer
Seoul (AFP) July 21, 2017 - South Korea urged the North on Friday to break its silence on an offer of military talks aimed at easing simmering tensions over the hermit state's nuclear ambitions.

Seoul had proposed to hold rare inter-Korea talks this week at the border truce village of Panmunjom to ease hostilities after a series of missile tests this year.

"It is an urgent task to reduce tension between two Koreas... to achieve peace and stability of the Korean peninsula," defense ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Kyun said.

"We urge the North again to respond to our talks proposal," he said.

The military talks, if realised, would have marked the first official inter-Korea talks since December 2015.

The North has also remained silent on another offer made by the South's Red Cross to meet on August 1 and discuss potential reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

Millions of families were separated by the conflict that sealed the division of the peninsula. Many died without getting a chance to see or hear from their relatives on the other side of the border, across which all civilian contacts are banned.

Monday's twin proposals are the first concrete steps towards rapprochement with the North since South Korea elected dovish President Moon Jae-In in May.

Moon has advocated dialogue with the nuclear-armed North to bring it to negotiating table and vowed to play a bigger active role in global efforts to tame the unpredictable regime.

His conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye had refused to engage in substantive dialogue with Pyongyang unless it made a firm commitment to denuclearisation.

But Pyongyang has staged a series of missile launches in violation of UN resolutions in recent months -- including its first ICBM test on July 4 that triggered global alarm and a push by US President Donald Trump to impose harsher UN sanctions.

North Korea has not responded to South Korea's offer to hold military talks Friday, Seoul said, dimming prospects of any ease in tensions after Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

"There has been no response yet," defence ministry spokesman Moon Sang-Gyun told journalists, adding that preparations were still underway in case the proposed meeting goes ahead.

Seoul's defence ministry on Monday offered rare talks with the North at the Panmunjom truce village on the heavily militarised inter-Korean border.

Separately Monday, the Red Cross in Seoul also proposed a meeting August 1 at the same venue to discuss reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The twin proposals are the first concrete steps towards rapprochement with the North since South Korea in May elected the President Moon Jae-In, who favours greater engagement with Pyongyang.

If the government meeting goes ahead, it will mark the first official inter-Korea talks since December 2015. Moon's conservative predecessor Park Geun-Hye had refused to engage in substantive dialogue with Pyongyang unless it made a firm commitment to denuclearisation.

Park was engulfed in a massive corruption scandal that resulted in her impeachment and subsequent ouster from office in March.

"There is no deadline," by which Pyongyang has to respond, a South Korea unification ministry official told Yonhap news agency.

The South's Red Cross earlier said it hoped for "a positive response" from its counterpart in the North in hopes of holding family reunions in early October. If realised, they would be the first for two years.

Millions of family members were separated by the conflict that sealed the division of the two countries. Many died without getting a chance to see or hear from their families on the other side of the heavily-fortified border, across which all civilian communication is banned.

Around 60,000 members of divided families survive in the South.

Moon, who took power in May, has advocated dialogue with the nuclear-armed North to bring it to the negotiating table and vowed to play a more active role in global efforts to tame the South's unpredictable neighbour.

But Pyongyang has staged a series of missile launches in violation of UN resolutions -- most recently on July 4 when it test-fired its first ICBM, a move which triggered global alarm and a push by US President Donald Trump to impose harsher UN sanctions.

NUKEWARS
S. Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions
Seoul (AFP) July 17, 2017
South Korea on Monday offered to hold rare military talks with North Korea, aiming to ease tensions after Pyongyang tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The offer of talks, the first since South Korea elected dovish President Moon Jae-In, came as the Red Cross in Seoul proposed a separate meeting to discuss reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. The Sou ... read more

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