South Korean President Moon Jae-In calls for rare talks with North

Kim Jong-un praises missile launch

Amid the growing tensions between the two neighboring countries, South Korea has proposed to hold military talks with Pyongyang next week.

South Korea on Monday offered talks with North Korea to ease animosities along their tense border and resume reunions of families separated by their war in the 1950s. Many died without getting a chance to see or hear from their families on the other side of the heavily-fortified border, across which all civilian communication is banned. It is North Korea that has been provocative with, for example, the bombardment of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in 2010.

The temporary reunions of families that remain separated since the end of the Korean War were last held in October 2015.

While Seoul will be hoping to discourage maritime border incursions and the North's alleged use of spy drones, Pyongyang has been also unhappy about South Korea's attempts to penetrate the reclusive state with propaganda broadcasts across the border. If an agreement cannot be found, analysts expect North Korea to have produced a nuclear missile that could reach the continental United States with a few years.

Indeed, the Ministry of Unification is viewing North Korea's first response to the Berlin Vision - published in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper on July 15 in the name of a member of the North Korean public - as "not entirely negative".

Seoul's proposal for two sets of talks indicates new President Moon Jae-in is pushing to improve ties with Pyongyang, despite the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test earlier this month. "The last such reunions were almost two years ago".

Pyongyang cut off military communication in the Yellow Sea (known as West Sea in Korea) in February past year, in response to the South Korean government's unilateral decision to shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) that month.

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 previous year after leaving a restaurant run by the North in China.

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 USA, reports ABC news. The ministry also did not elaborate what it meant by hostile military activities. Ms. Ahn said there were no indications that Ms. Wright or any of the other activists would be barred from South Korea.

The military demarcation line is the border that bisects the two Koreas.

After the ICBM launch, Kim said he would never negotiate over his weapons programs as long as US hostility and nuclear threats persist. His statement suggested he will order more missile and nuclear tests until North Korea develops a functioning ICBM that can place the entire USA within its striking distance.

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