South Korea offers talks to ease tensions with the North

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 Korea. South Korea's Red Cross said

But Moon's overture, the first formal offer of talks since his inauguration in May, indicates he wants to use dialogue to defuse the global 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.

The proposal is the first formal overture by the government of President Moon Jae-in, who came to power in May pledging to engage the North in dialog, as well as to apply pressure on Pyongyang to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.

Tongilgak is a North Korean building at the Panmunjom truce village on the border used for previous inter-Korea talks.

The Rodong Sinmun editorial said the "first step" the two Koreas need to take is to resolve the political and military standoff.

It's partially because of THAAD that both Eurasian Great Powers suggested a joint course of action in resolving this problem during President Xi's visit to Moscow last week, proposing that North Korea halt its technology tests in exchange for the USA and South Korea freezing their large-scale and provocative military drills.

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Later this month, both rivals will mark the 64th anniversary of the armistice agreement that brought an end to the Korean War.

North Korea's state-run daily Rodong Sinmun on Saturday published an article branding the South Korean president's offer of cross-border rapprochement as misleading.

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. But analysts say North Korea may accept the defense talks because it wants the South Korean army to halt loudspeaker broadcasts at the border that began after North Korea's fourth nuclear test in January 2016. Noting that Chuseok, one of Korea's biggest holidays, falls on October 4 this year, the president said that since the two anniversaries overlap, it would be meaningful to hold family reunions on that day as a first step in addressing this humanitarian issue.

It conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, claiming to have mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile.

South Korean Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo Suk, right, speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 17, 2017.

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