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S. Korea prepares to propose military talks to N.K.

2017/07/16 14:00

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SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea may propose inter-Korean military talks as early as this week to follow up on President Moon Jae-in's offer to stop all acts of hostility on the border, a government official said Sunday.

The unification, military and other relevant ministries are discussing the plan one day after Pyongyang first reacted to Moon's suggestion, according to the official who asked not to be named de to sensitivity of the issue.

During his speech in Berlin on July 6, Moon laid out his vision for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula, including a proposal to mutually halt acts of hostility along their tense border as of the July 27 anniversary of the armistice treaty that ended the three-year Korean War in 1953.

He also offered to hold reunions of families torn apart by the war on Oct. 4, Korea's lunar fall harvest holiday and the 10th anniversary of the second inter-Korean summit.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, carried a commentary by a private writer, on Saturday saying it seemed "fortunate" as Moon included his government's committment to the landmark joint declarations signed at the inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007. The two declarations aim to foster cross-border cooperation, exchanges and reconciliation.

The newspaper emphasized that the first step to improve relations should be the resolution of the fundamental issue of military confrontation.

This computer generated image shows South Korea and North Korea shaking hands. (Yonhap) This computer generated image shows South Korea and North Korea shaking hands. (Yonhap)

The Seoul official said the argument seemed to correspond with Moon's plan of scrapping hostile acts. But experts said there could be a difference.

"With the words, the South Korean government may mean suspending propaganda loudspeaker broadcasts or anti-North Korean leaflet drops, but the North could demand halt of joint military drills between South Korea and the United States," said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University in Seoul.

Seoul also plans to propose Red Cross talks to North Korea to hold reunions of separated families. The last reunions were held in October 2015 at a resort at Mount Kumgang on North Korea's east coast.

But experts said the resumption of the event may take a bumpy road since the communist state continued in the commentary to demand South Korea repatriate 12 female North Koreans who worked at a Pyongyang-run restaurant in China and defected to Seoul en masse last year.

This photo, taken on July 6, 2017, shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivering a speech in Berlin over his vision for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap) This photo, taken on July 6, 2017, shows South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivering a speech in Berlin over his vision for bringing peace to the Korean Peninsula. (Yonhap)

kdon@yna.co.kr

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