Friday, 17 November, 2017

China welcomes South Korea's proposal to hold talks with Pyongyang

Moon Jae-in has suggested hostile military activities be halted at the inter Korean border on July 27 the anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War North Korea crisis: South calls for rare military talks to end border tension
Melinda Barton | 18 July, 2017, 02:18

In an act to rein in the North, the United States is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior USA officials said last week. The biggest factor in Seoul's rush to propose military talks with Pyongyang appears to be its sense that time is of the essence.

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.

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".

Maruyama said the Japanese government is "aware of the announcement", but made clear that immediate talks aren't the approach it supports.

The unification minister refused to answer whether Seoul was considering any incentives for North Korea if it accepts, saying, "It's not right to make any predictions on such matters at this point".

The group proposed the family reunion to be held on October 4, in time for the Chuseok holiday, Korea's harvest festival. A senior official with the Ministry of National Defense said it was "continuing to hold discussions on inter-Korean military talks with the Ministry of Unification and other agencies involved in practical matters". Three people, including the general secretary of the Korean Red Cross, would attend the August 1 discussions if they are given the green light, the group said in its statement. The proposal is set to be the first follow-up measure for the "Berlin Vision" announced by President Moon Jae-in in Germany on July 6 as a step toward achieving a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea usually refers to loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts by both sides, while the North wants a halt to routine joint U.S. University of North Korean Studies professor Yang Moo-jin predicted, "North Korea could agree to inter-Korean military talks, since it was one of the things - along with a large-scale reunification meeting - proposed by the Korean Workers' Party at its 7th party Congress [in May 2016]".

"We make the proposal for a meeting. aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border", the country's defense ministry said in a statement, according to the Agence France-Presse news service.