18 July 2017

News Story: Seeking talks, S. Korea tests Kim Jong-un's appetite for warming ties

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's offer of military and family reunion talks with North Korea on Monday reflects President Moon Jae-in's resolve to draw a line between sanctions on Pyongyang and efforts to improve bilateral ties.

It's also seen as a litmus test of whether the Kim Jong-un regime is interested in changing the course of belligerence.

Moon, the South's first liberal leader in a decade, believes dialogue should be used to help build trust, as stated in his Berlin address early this month.

He laid out a vision for denuclearizing the peninsula and bringing permanent peace to it through dialogue and tension-easing measures.

Moon was emboldened by U.S. President Donald Trump's support for Seoul to take the initiative in dealing with Korea issues. But Moon's push was overshadowed by the North's July 4 launch of an apparent intercontinental ballistic missile.

The U.N. Security Council is working on a new resolution to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang for the latest missile firing.

Moon's point man on the North sought to assure the communist state of the South's sincerity and seriousness behind Monday's proposal.

"South Korea has no hostile policy toward North Korea as (the president) clearly stated in his Berlin doctrine that he will never pursue the collapse of North Korea and an absorption-based reunification," Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said in a statement.

It came hours after the Ministry of National Defense proposed holding military talks with the North on Friday to reduce tensions, and the (South) Korea Red Cross suggested an Aug. 1 meeting with its northern counterpart aimed at arranging an event for separated families to get reunited briefly.

It represented the Moon administration's first formal offer of inter-Korean talks.

Read the full story at YonhapNews