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17 July 2017, 08:37 | Katrina Lee
John Bolton, former US ambassador to the United Nations
The South Korean defence ministry also proposed reconnecting a military hotline between the two sides, which was cut following North Korean missile and nuclear tests a year ago.
The country's Red Cross also wants to open talks of its own "to discuss restarting reunions between families separated by the Korean War", NPR's Elise Hu notes.
At a news briefing, South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon added that talks could be a way to de-escalate the North Korean nuclear threat that has intensified in the wake of multiple missile tests over the past months. Moon declared his willingness to work for peace with North Korea following his inauguration. Last time Seoul and Pyongyang held intergovernmental talks in late 2015.
North Korea did not immediately respond. The dialogue was suspended by increased cross-border tension following the North's missile and nuclear activities.
The Defense Ministry offered talks with Pyongyang counterparts on Monday, while the National Red Cross floated reunion events for families split by decades of hostilities.
Numerous estimated 60,000 South Koreans that have signed up to participate in these sporadically held inter-Korean reunions are elderly and have had virtually no contact with relatives living in the repressive North where contact with the outside world is highly restricted.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, carried a commentary by a private writer, on Saturday saying it seemed "fortunate" as Moon included his government's committment to the landmark joint declarations signed at the inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007.
North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests since the beginning of past year and missile-related activities at an unprecedented pace.
The defense ministry and the Red Cross asked Pyongyang to reply to the suggestion through the military hotline in the western region and the liaison office at Panmunjom, a truce village inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
The latest test took place on July 4, when Pyongyang said it had successfully launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the Hwasong-14.
It is unclear whether North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un will agree as he "remains suspicious" of his Seoul counterpart and his relationship with the United States, reports ABC news. The biggest factor in Seoul's rush to propose military talks with Pyongyang appears to be its sense that time is of the essence. The two Koreas fought a war in the early 1950s, and have been at odds ever since the war ended. His statement suggested he will order more missile and nuclear tests until North Korea develops a functioning ICBM that can place the entire US within its striking distance.
Al Jazeera's Kathy Novak, reporting from Seoul, said family separation is seen as a "very pressing and emotional humanitarian issue", - particularly in South Korea. Just ten days remain before the 64th anniversary of the armistice agreement on July 27, when Moon proposed having both sides halt their hostile activities at the MDL.
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