South Korea proposes military talks with North Korea this month

S. Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

Seoul's proposal for two sets of talks indicates that South Korean President Moon Jae-in is pushing to improve ties with Pyongyang despite the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test this month.

"North Korea should respond to our honest proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula", Cho Myoung-Gyon, Seoul's unification minister in charge of North Korea affairs, told reporters.

Talks could be held in the village of Panmunjom, just on the North Korean side of the border, as soon as Friday, the ministry said, with the goal of ending "all acts of hostility" along the Military Demarcation Line that separates the two countries.

If realized, the talks would be the first inter-Korean dialogue since December 2015.

If held, it would be the first such meeting between military authorities of the two sides since a working-level meeting that failed to produce an agreement on October 15, 2014, at Panmunjom, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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.

Moon has said he would use both dialogues and pressure to resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program, but his push has reported little progress with the North test-firing a series of missiles since May.

The North has responded with its own propaganda broadcasts and sent anti-Seoul leaflets via giant balloons across the border. It is anxious about an influx of refugees and possible U.S. troops stationed on its border in a unified Korea.

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

At the time it claimed the missile could "reach anywhere in the world", though based on a standard trajectory analysts say the long-range weapon could potentially reach Alaska.

"The fact that we wish to take on a leading role in resolving this (North Korean) issue has already been understood at the summit with the United States and the Group of 20 summit meetings", Cho said on Monday. -South Korea military drills. The ministry, which gave no agenda for the talks, said it was still waiting for an answer from Pyongyang.

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