South Korea pushes for talks with North Korea

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Less than two weeks after North Korea's first intercontinental ballistic missile test, South Korea's new president has offered to hold talks at the tense border separating the two Koreas in what would be the rivals' first face-to-face meeting since late 2015.

Seoul wants to hold a meeting Friday in the truce village of Panmunjom aimed at halting "all acts of hostility" near the Military Demarcation Line that divides peninsula, the defense ministry said Monday.

Also Monday, the South Korean Red Cross Society proposed a meeting at Panmunjom on August 1 with its North Korean counterpart, to arrange reunions of relatives in the North and South who have not seen each other since being separated during the 1950-53 Korean War.

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"Talks and co-operation between the two Koreas to ease tension and bring about peace on the Korean peninsula will be instrumental for pushing forth a mutual, virtuous cycle for inter-Korea relations and North Korea's nuclear problem", the South's unification minister, Cho Myoung-gyon, told a news briefing.

The proposal came roughly a week after Moon had said the need for dialogue with North Korea was more pressing than ever to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes. The North has yet to issue an official statement.

"North Korea should respond to our honest proposals if it really seeks peace on the Korean Peninsula", said Cho Myoung-gyon, Seoul's unification minister in charge of North Korea affairs.

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North Korea's state media hasn't immediately responded to South Korea's overtures. FILE - In this October 22, 2015, file photo, North Korean Son Kwon Geun, center, weeps with his South Korean relatives as he bids farewell after the Separated Family Reunion Meeting at Diamond Mountain resort in North Kore. But he has achieved little progress, with North Korea test-firing a series of newly developed missiles. During that period, two liberal South Korean presidents went to Pyongyang and held landmark summit talks with then-leader Kim Jong Il, the father of current North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un celebrates the successful test of the Hwasong-14 missile.

If the talks are held, loudspeaker broadcasts, leafleting and South Korea-U.S. drills are expected to top the agenda. In all, the North has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests. Ruler Kim Jong-Un has said he would not give up nuclear ambitions until the United States ceases its hostility towards Pyongyang.

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If such activities pick up again in October as the South Korea's Red Cross hopes, they would be the first to take place in over two years.

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