S. Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North
Jul 17 2017
In his Berlin speech, Moon also proposed holding Red Cross talks with the DPRK for the reunion of separate families of the two Koreas on October 4 that marks the 10th anniversary of the October 4 joint declaration and also the traditional Chuseok holiday.
The last such meetings were held in 2015, when fewer than 100 elderly Koreans from each side were allowed to spend three days with their family members.
The Red Cross has proposed the reunions for October, during the Chuseok holiday.
"South Korean authorities should not persistently depend on outsiders...but opt for improving the North-South relations and achieving independent reunification by pooling efforts with the compatriots in the North". The last time North Korean and South Korean military officials met was in December 2015. During a speech in the capital of a reunited Germany this month, Moon repeated his openness to direct talks with the North Korean leader on everything from weapons programs to outright peace.
North Korea's decision to shun all channels of dialogue came after Seoul closed down the jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January 2016 and a subsequent long-range ballistic missile launch.
On Monday, Seoul's Defense Ministry proposed talks at the border village of Panmunjom this Friday to discuss how to ease border-area tensions, while the Red Cross said it wants separate talks at Panmunjom on August 1 to discuss family reunions.
In addition to the potential reopening military talks, the South Korean Red Cross on Monday proposed talks with Pyongyang to once again organise reunions of families who were separated during the Korean War (1950-1953). "And that is the reason we must seek to resolve the issue through dialogue and peaceful means, though it is imperative that the worldwide community further increase its pressure and impose strong sanctions", Moon said.
Cho added that the South did not engage in any back-channel dialogue with the North before making the proposals.
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. While humanitarian exchanges couldn't relieve the threat of war, North Korea never supported the suspension of "inter-Korean sporting events or joint projects for human rights, aimed at removing sadness of the nation's division", it said. More than half of them are in their 80s or older.
"Once that is established, then both sides can understand what the other is seeking". North Korea is seen as worrying that doing so could open the country to influence from more affluent South Korea and threaten the ruling party's grip on power. The Unification Ministry said it has about 130,000 South Korean applicants for such meetings on file, but only 60,000 of those are alive.