South Korea proposes talks with Pyongyang

South Korea proposes military talks with North Korea in an effort to halt hostile activities near their joint border after a series of missile tests by the North in recent weeks.
South Korean Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo Suk speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry's building in Seoul, South Korea, on July 17, 2017.
South Korean Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo Suk speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry's building in Seoul, South Korea, on July 17, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea proposes military talks with North Korea in an effort to halt hostile activities near their joint border after a series of missile tests by the North in recent weeks. 

This is the first between both governments in two years.

"Defence Ministry requests military talks with the North to stop all hostile activities that raise military tensions at the military demarcation line," said South Korea's Vice-Defence Minister, Suh Choo Suk.

It is also the first try at talks under South Korean president Moon Jae In, who won office in May on a promise to shoot for dialogue with the North and to push Pyongyang for peace.

However, that may be a challenge.

Pyongyang has said it refuses to sit down for dialogue unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South last year, which does not look likely.

The South Korean Red Cross also wants talks with the aim of restarting family reunions of those separated by the Korean War.

Meanwhile in Pyongyang, days of celebrations after the successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say could reach parts of the continental United States.

In response, Washington plans to carry on a sanctions crackdown, readying new restrictions on Chinese banks and companies doing business with the North, which officials say could land within weeks.