South Korea proposed military talks with North Korea on Monday for the first time since 2015, according to Reuters.The country is hoping to stop the contentious back-and-forth that’s taken place in recent months between the two countries and the United States.
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The proposal is the first formal overture by the government of President Moon Jae-in, who came to power in May pledging to engage the North in dialogue, as well as to apply pressure on Pyongyang to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.
“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.
Tongilgak is a North Korean building at the Panmunjom truce village on the border used for previous inter-Korea talks. The last government-level talks were held in December 2015.
Moon said on the campaign trail prior to his election that he hoped to reopen the mode of communication between the two countries.
Just last week, Moon commented that talks were needed as nuclear and missile tensions with North Korea have reached a high point.
Moon 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.
The South Korean Red Cross on Monday proposed talks with the North to discuss reunions of family members separated during the Korean War. It suggested talks be held on August 1, with possible reunions over the Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.
Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South last year.
In the meantime, the U.S. is preparing sanctions on Pyongyang over the coming weeks as part of an end to the Obama-era “strategic patience.”