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Alarmed by the recent long-range missile test by their controversial neighbours, South Korea has proposed holding military talks with North Korea.
North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un

Alarmed by the recent long-range missile test by their controversial neighbours, South Korea has proposed holding military talks with North Korea.

The talks, if they were to go ahead, would be the first high-level talks since 2015.

A senior official told BBC that talks should aim to stop "all hostile activities that raise military tension" at the fortified border between the Koreas.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in has long signaled he wants closer engagement with the North.

North Korea has not responded to the South's proposal yet.

In a recent speech in Berlin, Mr Moon said dialogue with the North was more pressing than ever and called for a peace treaty to be signed.

He said such dialogue was crucial for those who seek the end of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

However, the North's frequent missile tests, including the most recent one of an intercontinental ballistic missile, are in consistent violation of UN resolutions and have alarmed its neighbours and the US.

South Korea's Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk told a media briefing that talks could be held at Tongilgak, a North Korean building in the Panmunjom compound in the demilitarised zone between the two countries, which was used to host previous talks.

He proposed that the talks be held on 21 July, and said: "We expect a positive response from the North."

South Korea's Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon also urged the restoration of communication hotlines between the two Koreas, cut last year after a North Korean nuclear test.

The BBC's Karen Allen in Seoul says the ultimate aim of these talks would be to end the military confrontation that has dominated relations between the two Koreas for decades.

But it could begin with confidence-building measures such as ending the infamous loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts along the border, she says.

The Red Cross and the government have also proposed a separate meeting, aimed at discussing how to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War, which ended in 1953.

But analysts say these could be highly fraught with Pyongyang still angry at the South's unwillingness to repatriate high-profile defectors.

The News Agency of Nigeria [NAN] reported that the talks could be held in the village of Panmunjom, just on the North Korean side of the border, on Friday.

According to NAN, the ministry said the talk is aimed at ending “all acts of hostility” along the Military Demarcation Line that separates the two countries.

The four-kilometre-wide line acts as a buffer zone.

If a meeting takes place, it will mark the first military talks between the neighbours in three years. The ministry, which gave no agenda for the talks, said it was still waiting for an answer from Pyongyang.

Tensions currently are running high on the Korean Peninsula, after a year in which the North has carried out two nuclear tests and numerous ballistic missile tests despite international condemnation and UN sanctions.

Its most recent test, of an intercontinental missile on July 4, confirmed fears it was a step closer to being able to hit the mainland United States.

Despite the North’s aggression and increasingly belligerent noises from Washington, South Korea’s President Moon Jae In has emphasized the importance of getting Pyongyang back to the negotiating table.

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