South Korea has proposed holding military talks with the North in an effort to deescalate tensions after Pyongyang’s latest long-range missile test.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has said for many years that he would like cooperation and closer engagement with the North, and the missile tests have proved to be a catalyst for action.
South Korea’s Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk said the talks could be held on 21 July at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the Panmunjom compound in the demilitarised zone.
North and South Korea never officially signed a peace treaty, merely an armistice agreement to bring an end to the Korean War in 1953. In a recent speech in Berlin, Moon called for the two nations to open a dialogue with the aim of signing an official peace treaty.
A peace treaty, which would allow the North Korean regime to ease its militaristic outlook, would be crucial to persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions. If an agreement cannot be found, analysts expect North Korea to have produced a nuclear missile that could reach the continental United States with a few years.
The threat from North Korea has already sent sales of underground bunkers soaring in Japan, a US ally that is already within the range of missiles from Pyongyang.