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

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

Pyongyang has ignored all calls to cease missile tests and de-nuclearize and has continued to test the patience of its Asian neighbors, saying such programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

But it's unclear if those talks will be realized.

Despite recent European Union overtures urging dialogue on the North Korean crisis, the ministers called on Pyongyang to move toward reducing its nuclear program as a precondition for broader worldwide talks, even as South Korea's new left-leaning president pushed military-to-military contacts with the north to ease tensions.

This growing threat of a conflict and North Korea's increasing belligerence should serve to strengthen ties, bilaterally and trilaterally, between Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul. Moon's two conservative predecessors suspended large aid shipments and major cooperation projects, and cross-border communication hotlines have been shut down.

Speaking after the meeting, however, U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there were "some tough words" in Monday's discussions on North Korea, with London among those making clear this wasn't the time for diplomatic outreach. After the North fired an ICBM on July 4, Moon quickly condemned the launch as a "reckless" and "irresponsible" provocation.

The South's defence ministry proposed a meeting to be held on Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom, while the Red Cross offered to hold talks on 1 August at the same venue.

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According to Kang, prices stabilized after the sharp spikes through the first week of July, likely because North Korea encouraged fuel smuggling across its border with China. The announcements came after North Korea signaled a willingness to consider Moon's overtures, despite voicing skepticism about the prospects for a breakthrough.

Pyongyang has said it will not engage in talks with Seoul unless it turns over 12 waitresses who defected to South Korea past year after leaving a North Korean restaurant in China. 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.

Pyongyang has yet to respond to Seoul's offer.

Outside experts believe the South Korean broadcasts and leaflets sting in Pyongyang more because the authoritarian country worries that the broadcasts will demoralize front-line troops and residents and eventually weaken the grip of absolute leader Kim Jong Un. Unlike trying to hit the US mainland, a target more than 5,000 miles away, Seoul and Tokyo, 121 miles and 798 miles respectively from the North Korean capital, present easier and similarly high-value targets, especially given both cities' sizable populations. USA officials have said a military solution isn't off the table.

The Red Cross said it hoped for "a positive response" from its counterpart in the North, hoping to hold family reunions in early October. Both Koreas prohibit their citizens from exchanging letters, phone calls and emails with people in the other country without government permission.