South Korea proposes rare military talks with North at Panmunjom

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

South Korea's Defense Ministry made the offer on Monday morning, the first since Moon Jae-in became the South's president.

"First, we need a peace accord with support from surrounding countries, and we should resume inter-Korean exchanges such as civil exchanges, the operation of Kaesong industrial complex and tourism to Mt. Keumkang", both of which are in North Korea, said Archbishop Kim.

Its most recent test, of an intercontinental missile on July 4, confirmed fears it was a step closer to being able to hit the mainland US.

Moon had previously offered to meet Kim "anytime, anywhere", but said such negotiations would only be possible under the right circumstances.

South Korean Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo Suk proposed on Monday that defense officials from the two Koreas hold talks at the border village of Panmunjom on Friday on how to end hostile activities along the border.

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Seoul also proposed separate talks between the countries' Red Cross organizations to resume a humanitarian project to reunite families separated during the USA war on the peninsula from 1950-53. It was the Moon government's first formal proposal for talks with North Korea since its May 10 inauguration. On Saturday, its official Rodong Sinmun newspaper criticized Moon's approach as a "series of sleep-talking sophistries that create even greater hurdles" to talks. Ties between the Koreas have plunged over the North's expanding missile and nuclear programs and the hard-line policies of Moon's conservative predecessors.

Washington has also called on China, the North's sole ally, to put more pressure on Pyongyang to curb its nuclear ambitions, which have advanced rapidly under leader Kim Jong-Un.

The North has responded with its own propaganda broadcasts and sent anti-Seoul leaflets via giant balloons across the border.

Seoul and Pyongyang remain far apart on the prospects of an eventual peace deal.

The president of the Korean bishops' conference has welcomed President Moon Jae-in's peace initiative, saying it matches the church's views on how peace can be achieved on the peninsula. Seoul suggested that the talks between representatives of the two countries' armies be held at the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two foes on the Korean Peninsula.

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