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S. Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North

S. Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North

David Petraeus, the retired general and former Central Intelligence Agency director, said the US needs to continue tightening sanctions on North Korea to get the country's "attention" and persuade it to accept a diplomatic accord over its nuclear arsenal.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-Gyon also called for the restoration of military and government hotlines across the border, which had been cut by the North previous year in response to the South imposing economic sanctions after a nuclear test by Pyongyang, Reuters reported on July 16. Seoul is hoping to reduce military tension in the demilitarized zone and arrange reunions of war-separated families.

Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk told a briefing that South Korea proposed a meeting last Friday at the border village of Panmunjom, with the aim of suspending "all hostility against each other that escalates tensions at the military demarcation line".

Seoul's Red Cross says it wants separate talks at the border village on August 1 to discuss family reunions, with possible reunions over the Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.

South Korea proposed resuming some military and humanitarian exchanges with North Korea as President Moon Jae-in seeks to follow through on campaign pledges to pursue dialogue with Kim Jong Un. Ever since, cross-border tensions have been rising following Pyongyang's relentless missile and nuclear activities.

It's unclear if North Korea would agree to the proposed talks as it remains suspicious of the South Korean president's overtures, seeing the new leader's more liberal policy as still resorting to the United States to force North Korea to disarm.

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South Korea has proposed talks with North Korea to ease animosities along their tense border and resume family reunions.

Kang Mi-jin, a defector who speaks regularly to market sources inside North Korea and reports commodity prices for Daily NK, said the price spikes in recent weeks were caused initially by the rumours - later confirmed - that China was restricting the flow of oil to North Korea.

"The fact that we wish to take on a leading role in resolving this (North Korean) issue has already been understood at the summit with the United States and the Group of 20 summit meetings", Cho said on Monday.

In a news conference on Monday, he suggested that the two Koreas' militaries discuss ways to end all hostile acts near the border. North Korea is seen as worrying that doing so could open the country to influence from more affluent South Korea and threaten the ruling party's grip on power.

The timing and scope of the USA action will depend heavily on how China responds to pressure for tougher steps against North Korea when US and Chinese officials meet for a high-level economic dialogue in Washington on July 19, the administration sources told Reuters. Since no truce was agreed, the two sides remain technically at war.

North Korea is believed to possess hundreds of missiles capable of striking South Korea and Japan.