South Korea stepped up efforts Monday to engage North Korea by proposing military talks this week, despite Pyongyang’s insistence on developing nuclear weapons in defiance of global sanctions.
If the North accepts the offer, the meeting would take place in Panmunjom, a truce village along the border guarded by thousands of troops on both sides. The aim would be to end “all acts of hostility” around the inter-Korean Military Demarcation Line, according to a South Korea’s Defense Ministry statement cited by the Yonhap News Agency.
The ministry wants Pyongyang to restore its military communication line with a view to meeting Friday, leaving flexibility for the agenda and level of officials who would lead the talks.
Seoul‘s move is in line with President Moon Jae In‘s public ambition to encourage Pyongyang to denuclearize while pursuing dialogue along with other cooperation and aid projects that ended under Moon’s conservative predecessor following the North Korea‘s first of two nuclear tests last year.
The Koreas last convened for military talks in late 2014.
While Seoul will be hoping to discourage maritime border incursions and the North’s alleged use of spy drones, Pyongyang has been also unhappy about South Korea’s attempts to penetrate the reclusive state with propaganda broadcasts across the border.
Such issues have already prompted exchanges of fire, and there is always the threat of more substantial engagement given the military hardware possessed by both sides.