A visitor walks by a wire fence decorated with ribbons carrying messages to wish for the reunification of the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) at the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, ROK, July 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
SEOUL - Republic of Korea (ROK) on Monday proposed military talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Koera (DPRK) this week, the first government-level talks since late 2015, in an effort to halt hostile activities near their joint border and after a series of missile tests by Pyongyang in recent weeks.
The proposal is the first formal overture by the government of President Moon Jae-in with military talks sought on July 21
The proposal is the first formal overture by the government of President Moon Jae-in, who came to power in May pledging to engage DPRK in dialogue, as well as to apply pressure on Pyongyang to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.
"We request military talks with the North on July 21 at Tongilgak to stop all hostile activities that raise military tension at the military demarcation line," ROK's Vice-Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk said at a media briefing. DPRK is also referred to as North Korea or simply, North.
Tongilgak is a DPRK building at the Panmunjom truce village on the border used for previous inter-Korea talks. The last government-level talks were held in Dec 2015.
The proposal came roughly a week after Moon said the need for dialogue with DPRK was more pressing than ever to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes.
The vice-defence minister did not elaborate on the meaning of hostile military activities. ROK usually refers to loudspeaker broadcasts and other provocations, while DPRK wants a halt to routine joint US-ROK military drills.
Moon has suggested hostile military activities be halted at the inter-Korean border on July 27, the anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.
The ROK Red Cross on Monday proposed talks with DPRK to discuss reunions of family members separated during the Korean War. It suggested talks be held on Aug 1, with possible reunions over the Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.
Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with ROK unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to ROK last year.
DPRK says Seoul abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but ROK has said the group decided to defect of its own free will.
DPRK has conducted two nuclear tests since the beginning of last year and missile-related activities at an unprecedented pace.
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. ROK and the United States dispute the claim.