US protested against Seoul's push for July military talks with North Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae In makes a speech at the 10th anniversary of an inter-Korean summit in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept 26, 2017.
South Korean President Moon Jae In makes a speech at the 10th anniversary of an inter-Korean summit in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept 26, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The United States was "very unpleasant" towards South Korea's decision to propose military talks with North Korea to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula in July, a senior presidential security adviser in Seoul said on Wednesday (Sept 27).

President Moon Jae In's adviser, professor Moon Jung In, said that "US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used a strong tone to protest against the decision when he met (South Korean) Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha".

Prof Moon's statement, which came during an event marking the 10th anniversary of the Oct 4 inter-Korean joint peace declaration, contradicts the Foreign Ministry's earlier announcement that it had provided the US with sufficient explanation on the proposal.

In July, the Moon administration proposed military talks and a separate Red Cross meeting with North Korea at the truce village of Panmunjeom. The invitation was aimed at reviving inter-Korean dialogue channels and a fresh round of reunions for families separated during the Korean War.

But North Korea had remained silent towards both proposals, which many government officials and experts here interpreted as a sign of refusal.

Shortly after, Washington expressed "veiled discomfort" over Seoul's decision. Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the US believed the conditions "that would have to be met" to initiate dialogue with the North "are clearly far away from where we are now".

Prof Moon also underlined the need for an inter-Korean dialogue channel to prevent a full-scale war.

"With the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, an accidental clash near the armistice line or the western sea border could lead to a full-scale war," he said."Both Koreas must talk with each other to prevent (a war). Inter-Korean talks must be revived. So Pyongyang can talk with Washington through us when the dialogue channel between the two is closed."

President Moon also attended the ceremony and urged North Korea to return to dialogue and immediately halt its provocations against the international community.

The joint declaration was the result of the second inter-Korean summit between then-South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in October 2007. The leaders of the two Koreas had reaffirmed inter-Korean cooperation and vowed to build on the previous joint declaration signed in 2000.

South and North Korea are still technically at war, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice.