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Tuesday 18th
posted by Morning Star in World

SOUTH KOREA offered talks with the North yesterday over border tensions and reunions for families divided by the militarised frontier.

South Korean deputy Defence Minister Suh Choo Suk proposed a meeting between defence officials from the two republics at the “peace village” of Panmunjom, inside the demilitarised zone, on Friday.

He said the negotiations should be aimed at ending lowlevel hostilities across the demilitarised zone, which include South Korea’s loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts, resumed after North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

Acting South Korean Red Cross chief Kim Sun Hyang told a press conference the organisation wants separate talks at the border village on August 1 to discuss family reunions.

There were no immediate reports of a response from Pyongyang.

Panmunjom, now a ghost town, was where the 1953 Korean war armistice was signed between the US-led United Nations forces on one side and North Korea and China on the other.

A formal peace treaty was never signed.

South Korean President Moon Jae In vowed to improve relations with Pyongyang following his election in May.

Last month he offered to meet North Korean dynastic ruler Kim Jong Un and called for co-operation on the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

There has been no dialogue between North and South since December 2015.

The European Union’s European Commission backed the negotiation offer in a statement yesterday but also threatened further sanctions against North Korea following Pyongyang’s first intercontinental ballistic missile test two weeks ago.

While the launch stoked international security fears, Mr Kim said he would never negotiate his weapons programmes unless the US abandoned its hostile policy toward his country.

In addition to existing sanctions, it said, the EU “will consider further appropriate responses” in co-ordination with “allies” and UN efforts.