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

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

"We noticed the South Korean government sent a couple of positive messages in pushing to resolve the issues on the Korean Peninsula", Lu said, adding that China hopes both sides on the peninsula can work together toward the positive direction and create preconditions for breaking the current deadlock and restart of dialogue.

Cho also urged the restoration of military and government hotlines across the border, which had been cut by the North previous year in response to the South imposing economic sanctions after a nuclear test by Pyongyang.

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 South also proposed separate talks by the rival states' Red Cross organizations to resume a humanitarian project to reunite families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War in closely supervised events held over a few days.

The last such reunions were held in October 2015 during the government of Moon's predecessor under a futile push for reconciliation following a sharp increase in tension over border incidents involving a landmine blast and artillery fire.

The stakes have risen for Trump after North Korea's first successful test on July 4 of a missile that could reach Alaska, if not continental America. It is anxious about an influx of refugees and possible USA troops stationed on its border in a unified Korea.

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Ministers say they are concerned about the recent missile launch.

It is unclear if North Korea would agree to the proposed talks as it remains suspicious of the South Korean president's overtures, seeing the new leader's more liberal policy as still resorting to the USA to force North Korea to disarm.

If the talks are held, loudspeaker broadcasts, leafleting and South Korea-U.S. drills are expected to top the agenda.

"We make the proposal for a meeting. aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border", the defence ministry said in a statement.

North Korea is believed to possess hundreds of missiles capable of striking South Korea and Japan.

In addition to existing sanctions, the statement said, the European Union "will consider further appropriate responses" in coordination with allies and United Nations efforts.

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