South Korea proposes peace talks with North



South Korea on Monday proposed holding bilateral military talks with the North this week aimed at reducing tensions across the border, and Red Cross talks on Aug. 1 to discuss resuming reunions of the families separated since the Korean War more than 60 years ago.

South Korea wants military talks to begin Friday at a North Korean building in the truce village of Panmunjom, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement picked up by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. Vice Minister Suh Choo-suk said the talks would attempt to end “all acts of hostility” near the Military Demarcation Line that divides the two Koreas.

The talks would be the first dialogue between the military authorities in almost three years.

South Korea President Moon Jae-in stressed engagement with the North in his election campaign this year. Moon, speaking in Berlin earlier this month, reiterated his position, called for a peace treaty with Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un voiced support for talks last year, saying dialogue could ease tensions in the region. A series of missile tests since that time, however, had added stress to Pyongyang’s relations to Seoul as well as other neighbors in the region and the West.

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Seoul made a separate proposal on talks that would resume family reunions on the occasion of the Chuseok holiday in early October, Yonhap reported. A similar event was held in October 2015, allowing family members to reunite after being separated since the Demarcation Line was drawn in 1953.

North Korea provided no immediate response to the overtures, which came the same day South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha met with the Tomas Ojea Quintana, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, to discuss dealing with the dire human rights abuses in the reclusive state.

Kang said that human rights in North Korea are a “matter of great concern” to the South Korean government under President Moon Jae-in.

Also Monday, the European Union condemned North Korea’s missile testing and said it was considering imposing tougher sanctions.

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