S. Korea proposes direct talks with North as USA prepares new sanctions

S. Korea proposes direct talks with North as USA prepares new sanctions

Cheryl Sanders
July 18, 2017

SOUTH KOREA'S DEFENCE MINISTRY, which has proposed a meeting with North Korean officials at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

North Korea's decision to shun all channels of dialogue came after Seoul closed down the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January 2016 and a subsequent long-range ballistic missile launch.

"North Korea should respond to our honest proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula", Seoul's Unification Minister in charge of North Korea affairs Cho Myoung Gyon said.

Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk proposed that the two sides meet on Friday at the North's side of the Panmunjeom truce village, hinting that Seoul may be willing to suspend anti-North broadcasts in the demilitarized zone. South Korea's Red Cross said on Monday, July 17, 2017, it wants separate talks at the border village on August 1 to discuss family reunions.

Without directly mentioning the proposals, North Korea said through its state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Monday that Moon's Berlin speech was "fortunate" in that it pledged to respect and implement the June 15, 2000, inter-Korean joint declaration of peace and prosperity, but that it contained "ill intention".

"Talks and cooperation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea's nuclear problem", said South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon, as quoted by Reuters. Ever since, cross-border tensions have been rising following Pyongyang's relentless missile and nuclear activities.

When Moon visited Washington after being elected president, he and Trump said they were open to renewed dialogue with North Korea but only under circumstances that would lead to Pyongyang giving up its weapons programmes.

He told a briefing Monday for a group of United Nations correspondents that "dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless". -South Korean military drills as hostile actions.

In a news conference on Monday, he suggested that the two Koreas' militaries discuss ways to end all hostile acts near the border. The Rodong Sinmun said a "fundamental shift" in policy was needed to reassure North Korea of Moon's intentions. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea.

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), a state-controlled company, halted diesel and gasoline sales to North Korea "over the last month or two", amid global pressure on Pyongyang to curb its nuclear and missile programmes, Reuters exclusively reported on June 28.

North Korea says South Korea abducted the waitresses, but Seoul has said they defected of their own free will. Cho said this matter was not included on the talks agenda.

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