Seoul offers military talks with Pyongyang

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North Korea's decision to shun all channels of dialogue came after Seoul closed down the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January 2016 and a subsequent long-range ballistic missile launch. But it's unclear if those talks will be realized.

Moon suggested earlier this month hostile military activities at the border be ended on July 27, the anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.

On Monday, Seoul's Defense Ministry proposed talks at the border village of Panmunjom this Friday to discuss how to ease border-area tensions, while the Red Cross said it wants separate talks at Panmunjom on August 1 to discuss family reunions.

Cho added, "In principle, we haven't changed our basic stance that we would use whatever method we have to press North Korea towards denuclearization, including sanctions [against the regime] when the North carries out a nuclear or missile provocation, and dialogue". The biggest factor in Seoul's rush to propose military talks with Pyongyang appears to be its sense that time is of the essence.

China, North Korea's neighbor and closest ally, is responsible for 90 percent of trade with the country.

The South Korean government made a rare formal overture to its counterpart in the North on Monday, proposing that the longstanding rivals open new military talks along their shared border.

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But over the past decade, the sides have pulled back on talks and reconciliation programs, though there have been some high-profile meetings to try to reach a breakthrough in strained ties or pull back from the brink. Since no truce was agreed, the two sides remain technically at war.

North Korea will likely accept Moon's proposed talks on easing border animosities, as it's something that it's previously called for.

"North Korea should respond to our honest proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean peninsula", Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea's minister for unification, said.

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 previous year after leaving a restaurant run by the North in China. "We considered [the proposal] because [a halt] is something that North Korea also agrees with and thinks is important", explained an administration official.

The reunions are a highly emotional issue because most applicants are in their 70s or 80s and are desperate to see their loved ones before they die.

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