Japan says this is a time to raise pressure on North Korea


Seoul wants to have the meeting at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the truce village of Panmunjom, the South Korean Ministry of National Defence said on Monday (17 July).

The South Korean defense ministry did not clarify what would be on the agenda or what officials would be in attendance at the meeting, "apparently for some flexibility", the news agency Yonhap reports.

A senior official said talks should aim to stop "all hostile activities that raise military tension" at the fortified border between the Koreas.

Yonhap suggests the offer might have been made sooner if North Korea did not insist on proceeding with provocative missile tests.

The timing and scope of the US action will depend heavily on how China responds to pressure for tougher steps against North Korea when USA and Chinese officials meet for a high-level economic dialogue in Washington on July 19, the administration sources told Reuters. Moon's two conservative predecessors suspended large aid shipments and major cooperation projects, and cross-border communication hotlines have been shut down.

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"We make the proposal for a meeting. aimed at stopping all hostile activities that escalate military tension along the land border", the country's defense ministry said in a statement, according to the Agence France-Presse news service. It is anxious about an influx of refugees and possible United States troops stationed on its border in an unified Korea.

European Union sanctions against North Korea date back to 2006 and are part of global efforts to halt a nuclear and ballistic missile programme that experts say is meant to give Pyongyang the capability to hit the U.S. mainland. But his push has reported little progress with the North test-firing a series of newly developed missiles since Moon's May 10 inauguration.

South Korea has proposed talks with North Korea to ease animosities along their tense border and resume family reunions. The December 2015 talks at a now-stalled joint factory park in North Korea ended with no breakthroughs.

The two Koreas restarted Cold War-era psychological warfare after the North's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

Kim Bum-soo has more.

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Reuters analyzed data at the North Korean defector website Daily NK and found the price of gasoline sold by private dealers in Pyongyang and the northern border cities of Sinuiju and Hyesan jumped to $2.18 per kg ($2.92 per liter) as of July 5, up 50 percent from $1.46 per kg on June 21. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he would never negotiate his weapons programs unless the USA abandons its hostile policy toward his country.

The request to hold talks is the first such formal overture by the new South Korean administration.

The proposal came roughly a week after Moon said the need for dialogue with North Korea was more pressing than ever to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes. Both Koreas prohibit their citizens from exchanging letters, phone calls and emails with people in the other country without government permission.

He urged all countries to implement United Nations sanctions and called on China and Russian Federation to use their influence to play "an even more constructive role" with North Korea.

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