Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North

The South’s defence ministry proposed a meeting on Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom, while the Red Cross offered to hold talks on 1 August at the same venue.

North Korea should respond to our honest proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula”, said Cho Myoung-gyon, Seoul’s unification minister in charge of North Korea affairs. This initiative is for the benefit of regional peace and development, he noted. “China will provide the necessary assistance”, he said.

It is the first such offer under South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, who signaled his willingness to talk with Pyongyang during his campaign earlier this year.

There was no immediate response from North Korea.

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 Korea.

Anthony Ruggiero, a former deputy director of the U.S. Treasury Department, said the visit could send a signal to Myanmar the United States is watching.

North Korea is believed to possess hundreds of missiles capable of striking South Korea and Japan.

The North’s missile launch has stoked security worries that the country could eventually flawless a reliable nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the US.

During that period, two liberal South Korean presidents went to Pyongyang and held landmark summit talks with then-leader Kim Jong Il, the father of current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.

The two Koreas have been divided since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The 13 were “being detained by force in South Korea” and without their immediate comeback, “there can never be any kind of humanitarian cooperation”, Kim Yong-chol told the AFP in Pyongyang.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon urges North Korea to accept the government’s dialogue offer on July 17, 2017.

A separated family reunion applicant corrects his information at the headquarters of South Korea’s Red Cross in Seoul on Monday.

The South’s military has deployed dozens of giant loudspeakers along the tense border to blare out a mix of world news, K-pop songs and other propaganda targeting young North Korean soldiers.

The reunions are a highly emotional issue because most applicants are in their 70s or 80s and are desperate to see their loved ones before they die.

Or, even before the sides sit down across the table, they could spend days and weeks engaged in a heated war of nerves over the rank of each other’s chief negotiator and protocol, which have in the past resulted in the breakdown of talks.