Seoul offers military talks with Pyongyang

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.

Earlier this month, Moon said in a speech in Germany that he's willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if certain conditions are met. Moon also said the two Koreas must halt hostile activities along the border, restart family reunions and cooperate on the 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

In a separate proposal, the South Korean Red Cross offered to hold discussions with the North over reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War on August 1 at the same place. The South and the United States disputed the claim.

Seoul's offer of the rare talks comes after North Korea said earlier this month that it had successfully test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and acquired the technology to load the projectile with a nuclear warhead. Cho also urged the restoration of military and government hotlines across the border, which had been cut by the North a year ago in response to the South imposing economic sanctions after a nuclear test by Pyongyang.

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

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There are also reports of increased activity at the Yongbyon uranium enrichment facility that could indicate plutonium production underway in the past year to further increase the North's nuclear weapons stockpile.

Moon has said he will use both dialogue and pressure to resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. -South Korea military drills.

South Korea proposed military talks and family reunions with North Korea on Monday to reduce the increasing potential for conflict over Pyongyang's continued development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. In all, the North has conducted five nuclear tests and numerous missile tests.

In an act to rein in the North, the United States is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior USA officials told Reuters. Analysts say the ICBM that was tested could reach Alaska.

Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South a year ago after leaving a restaurant run by the North in China. "We considered [the proposal] because [a halt] is something that North Korea also agrees with and thinks is important", explained an administration official. Since no truce was agreed, the two sides remain technically at war.

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