South Korea offers olive branch to North with proposal for border talks

South Korea offers olive branch to North with proposal for border talks

South Korea proposed to hold an inter-Korean military talk on Friday, July 21, at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the truce village of Panmunjom, the nation's vice defense minister, Suh Choo-suk, said at a press conference in Seoul on Monday.

Moon's government proposed two sets of talks to discuss how to dial down tensions and resume reunions of aging Koreans separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

"South Korea has no hostile policy toward North Korea as (the president) clearly stated in his Berlin doctrine that he will never pursue the collapse of North Korea and an absorption-based reunification", Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said in a statement. North Korea has yet to respond to the latest overture.

The temporary reunions of families that remain separated since the end of the Korean War were last held in October 2015. Analysts say South Korea may be willing to suspend loudspeaker broadcasts at the border that are highly critical of the North Korean leader to re-establish contact.

Referring to Moon as the "chief executive of South Korea", without directly mentioning his real name, the commentary read that his speech meant to "escalate confrontation with the compatriots in the North and stifle them with the backing of outsiders", and that it was "characterized by nonsensical sophism putting a brake on the efforts" for achieving inter-Korean peace and repairing bilateral relations.

Your correspondent believes the joint missile launches by the US and South Korea were provocative, and that negotiations are the best way of finding a solution in the Korean peninsula.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, carried a commentary by a private writer, on Saturday saying it seemed "fortunate" as Moon included his government's committment to the landmark joint declarations signed at the inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007.

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The writers claimed that India is now developing a missile which can carry nuclear heads to any remote area in China from its bases in South India.

The US maintains nearly 29,000 military servicemen stationed in South Korea, claiming they act as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.

After the ICBM launch, Kim said he would never negotiate over his weapons programs as long as US hostility and nuclear threats persist.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests since the beginning of a year ago and missile-related activities at an unprecedented pace.

Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Seoul-based Korea National Diplomatic Academy, expressed doubt that the talks proposed Monday would lead to a breakthrough since North Korea has made clear it's not interested in denuclearization and President Donald Trump's administration is moving forward with sanctions.

There are also reports of increased activity at the Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility that could indicate plutonium production underway in the past year to further increase the North's nuclear weapons stockpile.

The latest ICBM test - which Kim described as a "gift" to the Americans - was seen as a milestone in Pyongyang's quest to build a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that can hit the USA mainland.

Cho added that the South did not engage in any back-channel dialogue with the North before making the proposals.

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