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South Korea proposes talks with the North

South Korea pushes for talks with the North in a bid to use dialogue rather than sanctions to curb Pyongyang's missile tests

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South Korea proposes talks with the North

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South Korea has proposed holding talks with North Korea, the first government-level discussions since late 2015.

The move comes after Seoul indicated the need for dialogue with the North was more pressing than ever to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

South Korea’s Defence Minister Suh Choo-Suk said his ministry requests military talks with the North on July 21 in the Panmunjom truce village on the border. The idea is to agree a halt to all hostile activities that raise military tensions at the military demarcation line.

The meaning of hostile military activities, which varies between the two Koreas. South Korea usually refers to loudspeaker broadcasts and other provocations, while the North wants a halt to routine joint US-South Korea military drills.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has overseen two two nuclear tests since the beginning of last year and numerous missile-related activities.

It conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, claiming to be able to reach mainland America should it so wish.

The South Korean Red Cross has also proposed talks with the North to discuss reunions of family members separated during the Korean War. It suggested talks be held on August 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 the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South last year.

North Korea says the South abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but the South has said the group decided to defect of its own free will.