South Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

Martes, 18 Jul, 2017

South Korea on Monday proposed military talks with North Korea, the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, to discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the heavily militarised border.

Most recently, Pyongyang claimed to have tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

North Korea says the South abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but the South has said the group decided to defect of its own free will. South Korea and the United States dispute the claim. The Trump administration is targeting other financial institutions laundering cash for the Kim regime-some of them believed to be Chinese-and it is also seizing the funds of parties dealing with North Korea, like Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co. and four related front companies.

"We request military talks with the North on July 21 at Tongilgak to stop all hostile activities that raise military tension at the military demarcation line", South Korea's Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk told a media briefing on Monday.

If realized, the talks would be the first inter-Korean dialogue since December 2015.

In the speech, ahead of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Moon described North Korea's missile launch as "disappointing" and "reckless".

"Talks and cooperation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea's nuclear problem", Cho said. If all goes according to plan, the Red Cross talks would occur on August 1st, and family reunions could occur during the Chuseok holiday season in October.

He said his government will strive to establish a permanent peace regime on the peninsula on top of continued denuclearisation efforts.

With the passage of time, the number of survivors has diminished, with only around 60,000 left in the South.

But analysts say North Korea may accept the defense talks because it wants the South Korean army to halt loudspeaker broadcasts at the border that began after North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January 2016. A prolonged cut by China would threaten critical supplies of gasoline and diesel and force North Korea to find alternatives sources of refined fuel products.

Firms in both Singapore and Myanmar have been accused of buying or selling weapons from North Korea. But the US Treasury Department accused it of doing business with North Korea in 2012. The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2018 that was passed by the House contained a section proposed by Liz Cheney, representative for Wyoming, that describes a plan to strengthen the US's capability for expanded deterrence and defense commitments to allies in the Asia-Pacific region.

Autonomous restrictive measures amount to sanctions separate from those called for by the UN Security Council.

The call to conversation from the newly in-office President Moon marks a change in approach for the South Korean government's stance towards its northern neighbor. He called out the almost 40% increase in trade in the first three months of the year, on Twitter, last week.