South Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

South Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

South Korea on Monday proposed holding inter-Korean military talks later this week on reducing tensions along the border, a follow-up to President Moon Jae-in's recent peace overture made in his speech in Berlin.

"In order to suspend hostile activities at the military demarcation line, we propose holding an inter-Korean military talk at Tongilgak", the North Korean building inside the truce village of Panmunjeom, the ministry said in a statement.

As another follow-up measure to Moon's initiative, the South Korean Red Cross proposed to its DPRK counterpart holding humanitarian talks on August 1 at the Peace House, a building in the South Korean side of Panmunjom.

It is notable that the offer has been extended after the North test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, with claims of achieving the technology to set a nuclear warhead on the missile. But Moon's overture, the first formal offer of talks since his inauguration in May, indicates he wants to use dialogue to defuse the global standoff over North Korea's weapons programs, despite having condemned the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 4 and vowed a firm response.

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.

South Korea usually refers to loudspeaker broadcasts and other provocations, while the North wants a halt to routine joint US-South Korea military drills.

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If the talks are held, they would be the first meeting of such kind since 2015, BBC reported.

The Red Cross said it hoped for a positive response from its counterpart in the North; mooted family reunions in early October would be the first in two years.

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.

Washington has also called on China, the North's sole ally, to put more pressure on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear ambitions, which have advanced rapidly under the North's leader, Kim Jong-un. In all, the North has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests.

The last time the two Koreas held a military consultation was in 2014.

"If South and North Korea sit face-to-face, we will be able to have a heart-to-heart discussion over mutual interests".

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