Global News

South Korea offers talks on tensions with North Korea

South Korea offers talks on tensions with North Korea

South Korea's government proposed on Monday to hold military talks with North Korea to reduce tensions between the two countries.

European Union member states agreed Monday to consider imposing new sanctions on North Korea after it tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile.

Suh suggested the talks be held this Friday at Tongilgak, a building operated by the North Korean government in the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom.

The goal of that meeting would be to discuss restarting reunions for families separated by the Korean War.

North Korea has not yet answered the proposal.

The meeting would be the first between Korean officials since December 2015. Seoul began blaring anti-Pyongyang broadcasts and K-Pop songs via border loudspeakers, and Pyongyang responded with its own border broadcasts and launches of balloons carrying anti-South leaflets.

In another development, the South Korean Red Cross has proposed to hold a meeting with North Korean officials on August 1.

But limits to the USA ability to persuade the rest of the world to treat North Korea's weapons program more harshly were also on display after the latest missile test. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, called an emergency hearing of the Security Council after the launch, where she said a unified worldwide community could cut off hard currency, restrict the flow of oil and boost air and maritime restrictions on Pyongyang.

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Asked whether Seoul was open to talks on halting joint military drills with the United States, which Pyongyang has persistently demanded in the past, Cho said only that the two Koreas would "freely discuss matters of mutual interest".

Trilateral cooperation among South Korea, the US and Japan has been key in efforts to get the North to abandon its nuclear and missile programs.

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.

North Korea once again urged Seoul to ditch its pro-U.S. stance, saying it was the "starting point" of improved relations with the regime.

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.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has long signalled he wants closer engagement with the North.

It was the Moon government's first formal proposal for talks with North Korea since its May 10 inauguration.