Seoul proposing military, family reunion talks with Pyongyang

Seoul proposing military, family reunion talks with Pyongyang

Seoul proposing military, family reunion talks with Pyongyang

The government of President Moon Jae-in also made a separate proposal on reopening Red Cross talks to discuss ways to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War in October.

China views South Korea's offer to hold military and Red Cross talks with North Korea as "positive messages", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Monday.

Some critics in South Korea and the United States opposed the Women Cross DMZ campaign, saying the activists' trip to North Korea would be used as propaganda by the North's repressive government.

The dialogue was aimed at stopping all hostile acts that escalate military tensions near the military demarcation line (MDL) dividing the two Koreas, the vice minister said.

Last month, Kim Yong-chol, a senior official in the North's Committee for the Peaceful Unification of Korea in charge of inter-Korean affairs demanded in an interview that Seoul return 13 defectors as a precondition for family reunions. Ever since, cross-border tensions have been rising following Pyongyang's relentless missile and nuclear activities.

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

The government is likely North Korea's largest user of fuel products, but most petrol and diesel bought by ordinary citizens comes from private dealers and smugglers, experts say.

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

"So far", Elise adds, "the North has not responded to the offer from Seoul".

While Cho says there is no "separation" between the USA and South Korea on dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat, Washington continues to emphasize pressure over dialogue and is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, according to US officials.

The latest test took place on July 4, when Pyongyang said it had successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-14.

Washington has also called on China, the North's sole ally, to put more pressure on Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions, which have advanced rapidly under leader Kim Jong-Un. He said now was North Korea's last best chance to change direction.

The ministry did not explicitly specify what "all hostile activities" includes, and the definition varies between the two Koreas. The two declarations aim to foster cross-border cooperation, exchanges and reconciliation.

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.

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