07/17/2017, 14.06
KOREA
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South Korea’s peace offensive

Talks could be held in Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the Panmunjom complex inside the demilitarised zone between the two countries, which has already been used for previous meetings. South Korea proposes 21 July as the day to start the talks. The first goals are the restoration of communication hotlines between the two Koreas and an end to all the hostile activities along the fortified border.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – South Korea has proposed holding military talks with the North, following weeks of heightened tensions over Pyongyang's long-range missile tests. If this goes go ahead, it would be the first high-level talks since 2015.

A senior South Korean official said talks should aim at stopping "all hostile activities that raise military tension" along the fortified border between the Koreas.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has long signalled he wants closer engagement with the North. So far, North Korea has not responded to the South's proposal.

In a recent speech in Berlin, Mr Moon said that dialogue with the North was more pressing than ever and called for a peace treaty to be signed.

He noted that such dialogue was crucial for those who seek the end of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

The North's frequent missile tests, including the most recent one of an intercontinental ballistic missile, are in consistent violation of UN resolutions and have alarmed its neighbours and the United States.

During a media briefing, South Korea's Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk said that talks could be held at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the Panmunjom compound in the demilitarised zone between the two countries, which was used to host previous talks.

He proposed that the talks be held on 21 July, adding: "We expect a positive response from the North."

South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon also urged the restoration of communication hotlines between the two Koreas, cut last year after a North Korean nuclear test.

For the BBC's Karen Allen in Seoul, ending the military confrontation that has dominated relations between the two Koreas for decades could begin with confidence-building measures such as ending the infamous loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border.

The Red Cross and the South Korean government have also proposed a separate meeting to discuss how to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War, which ended in 1953.

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