clear
Wednesday September 20th, 2017 8:57AM

AP Explains: South Korea pushes for talks with North Korea

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

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 in 19 months.

President Moon Jae-in's overture Monday clearly showed again that he prefers diplomacy over pressure or economic sanctions to try to improve ties between the two Koreas and persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons program.

Moon proposed two sets of talks to discuss how to dial down tensions and resume reunions of aging Koreans separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

But it's unclear if those talks will be realized. The North recently voiced suspicion over Moon's North Korea policy, and some conservatives in South Korea worry that his overture might weaken international pressure on North Korea.

A look at Moon's proposed talks and their prospects:

___

MOON'S PLANS

With North Korea pushing to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals, relations between the two Koreas are at one of their lowest points in decades. Moon's two conservative predecessors suspended large aid shipments and major cooperation projects, and cross-border communication hotlines have been shut down. Official talks between the sides have not been held since December 2015.

Moon, who calls his predecessors' hard-line policies a total failure, has said he would employ both dialogue and pressure to resolve the North Korea standoff. After the North fired an ICBM on July 4, Moon quickly condemned the launch as a "reckless" military provocation. But he has still not backed off from his outreach to North Korea, arguing during a recent speech that both Koreas must stop hostile activities along the Demilitarized Zone that bisects the Korean Peninsula and resume family reunions.

On Monday, Seoul's Defense Ministry proposed talks at the border village of Panmunjom this Friday to discuss how to ease border-area tensions, while the Red Cross said it wants separate talks at Panmunjom on Aug. 1 to discuss family reunions. It was the Moon government's first formal proposal for talks with North Korea since its May 10 inauguration.

There was no immediate response from North Korea.

___

RARE TALKS

During a period of detente from 1998 to 2008, there were a flurry of talks and exchange programs between the two Koreas. 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. Kim Jong Il, meanwhile, sent his premier, spy chief and other top officials to Seoul for talks.

But over the past decade, the sides have pulled back on talks and reconciliation programs, though there have been some high-profile meetings to try to reach a breakthrough in strained ties or pull back from the brink. In August 2015, North Korea's No. 2 leader, Hwang Pyong So, and South Korea's national security director, Kim Kwan-jin, met at Panmunjom and reached a deal on averting possible bloodshed over a land-mine blast that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

The December 2015 talks at a now-stalled joint factory park in North Korea ended with no breakthroughs.

While the two Koreas have a history of failing to follow through on some rapprochement agreements struck during their rare talks, any dialogue between the rivals is considered a positive step toward easing tensions.

___

ANIMOSITIES

The two Koreas restarted Cold War-era psychological warfare after the North's fourth nuclear test in January 2016. Seoul began blaring anti-Pyongyang broadcasts and K-Pop songs via border loudspeakers, and Pyongyang responded with its own border broadcasts and launches of balloons carrying anti-South leaflets.

Outside experts believe the South Korean broadcasts and leaflets likely 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.

North Korea will likely accept Moon's proposed talks on easing border animosities, as it's something that it's previously called for. But the North might set a precondition for the talks, such as a suspension of annual South Korean-U.S. military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal, according to Koh Yu-hwan, a professor at Seoul's Dongguk University.

If the talks are held, loudspeaker broadcasts, leafleting and South Korea-U.S. drills are expected to be top agendas.

___

FAMILY REUNIONS

Chances for talks on family reunions are slimmer as North Korea has already made it clear that it won't agree to a fresh reunion program unless Seoul returns some of the North Korean defectors living in the South who it says were abducted by South Korean agents.

On-and-off family reunions were last held at a mountain resort in North Korea in October 2015, when hundreds of elderly Koreans and their family members met their long-lost relatives for the first time since they were split during the Korean War.

Reunions are highly emotional issues as most applicants are in their 70s or 80s and are desperate to see their loved ones before they die. Both Koreas prohibit their citizens from exchanging letters, phone calls and emails with people in the other country without government permission.

South Korean officials have long called for holding reunions more regularly and expanding the number of people taking part. 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.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
AP Explains: South Korea pushes for talks with North Korea
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 in 19 months
5:41AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Islamic leaders boycott Jerusalem site over metal detectors
Islamic leaders call on Muslims to boycott Jerusalem holy site after Israel set up metal detectors in wake of Arab attack
5:22AM ( 35 minutes ago )
George A. Romero, father of the zombie film, is dead at 77
George Romero, whose classic "Night of the Living Dead" and other horror films turned zombie movies into social commentaries and who saw his flesh-devouring undead spawn countless imitators, remakes and homages, has died. He was 77.
4:57AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Iran detains president's brother, sentences Chinese-American
Iran imprisons Chinese-American for 10 years; President Rouhani's brother detained on financial misconduct allegations
2:23AM ( 3 hours ago )
Maduro foes: Over 7 million vote in Venezuelan referendum
Venezuelan's opposition said more than 7.1 million people responded to its call to vote in a symbolic rejection of President Nicolas Maduro's plan to rewrite the constitution.
2:14AM ( 3 hours ago )
Report: UAE behind hacking of Qatari media
Washington Post reports that UAE orchestrated the hacking of a Qatari government news site, planting a false story that was used as a pretext for the current crisis between Qatar and several Arab countries
1:16AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP World News
Islamic leaders boycott Jerusalem site over metal detectors
Islamic leaders call on Muslims to boycott Jerusalem holy site after Israel set up metal detectors in wake of Arab attack
5:22AM ( 35 minutes ago )
George A. Romero, father of the zombie film, is dead at 77
George Romero, whose classic "Night of the Living Dead" and other horror films turned zombie movies into social commentaries and who saw his flesh-devouring undead spawn countless imitators, remakes and homages, has died. He was 77.
4:57AM ( 1 hour ago )
Federer up to ATP No. 3 after Wimbledon; Muguruza WTA No. 5
Roger Federer's eighth Wimbledon title pushed him back up to No. 3 in the rankings
4:52AM ( 1 hour ago )
Underperforming Mets could be busy sellers at trade deadline
When the season began, the New York Mets thought they'd be fighting for first place this time of year
4:48AM ( 1 hour ago )
Scuffling Mets could be big sellers at trade deadline
When the season began, the New York Mets thought they'd be fighting for first place this time of year
3:47AM ( 2 hours ago )