S Korea offers rare talks with North on tensions, family reunions
South Korea has proposed to hold military talks with the North this week in an effort to end animosities along their tense border, in what could mark the first official inter-Korean negotiations since late 2015.
The South’s Defense Ministry on Monday proposed the meeting to be held on Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom, which also hosted the last such negotiations in December 2015.
“We request military talks with the North on July 21 at Tongilgak to stop all hostile activities that raise military tension at the military demarcation line,” said South Korea’s Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk.
This is Seoul’s first proposal for government-level talks with Pyongyang since President Moon Jae-in came to power in May. Moon declared his willingness to work for peace with North Korea following his inauguration. He has been known as an advocate of engagement with Pyongyang.
Seoul’s offer of the rare talks comes after North Korea said earlier this month that it had successfully test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and acquired the technology to load the projectile with a nuclear warhead.
Relations between the two neighbors have been characterized by consistent tension. The two Koreas fought a war in the early 1950s, and have been at odds ever since the war ended.
North Korea, which is currently under a raft of crippling United Nations sanctions over its military programs, says it will continue the programs until the US ends its hostility toward the country.The US maintains almost 29,000 military servicemen stationed in South Korea, claiming they act as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.
Washington and Seoul have further angered Pyongyang by the controversial deployment of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system.