China Welcomes South Korea's Push for Talks With North Amid Nuclear Crisis

S. Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

S. Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions

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.

Talks have been requested between high level military officials for July 21, and among Red Cross representatives from both countries on August 1. But Moon's overture, the first formal offer of talks since his inauguration in May, indicates he wants to use dialogue to defuse the worldwide standoff over North Korea's weapons programs, despite having condemned the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test on July 4 and vowed a firm response.

Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo Suk said the South's defence officials are proposing talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Friday to discuss how to end hostile activities along the border.

Mr. Moon proposed opening the talks with North Korea on July 21 in the border town of Tongilgak. "[The government] is looking forward to a positive response from the North Korean side". A previous joint event was held in October 2015 to arrange the reunion of families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War.

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. "They can signal to the other side what they want, what problems or issues they have with the other side", said Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea analyst with Troy University in Seoul.

Pictures showing some reunions of family members from North and South Korea are displayed at the headquarters of the Korea Red Cross in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 17, 2017.

"So far", Elise adds, "the North has not responded to the offer from Seoul". FILE - In this October 22, 2015, file photo, North Korean Son Kwon Geun, center, weeps with his South Korean relatives as he bids farewell after the Separated Family Reunion Meeting at Diamond Mountain resort in North Kore.

"The reunion of separated families should take precedence over any political considerations", Cho told assembled media.

Military and government hotlines should also be restored across the border, Cho added.

Earlier, White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said, "The threat [from North Korea] is much more immediate now".

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