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(LEAD) Seoul views inter-Korean dialogue differently from N.K. nuke talks: official

All Headlines 17:11 July 19, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's latest offer for rare inter-Korean dialogue should be viewed differently from talks aimed at North Korea's denuclearization as it is aimed at easing tensions and resolving humanitarian issues, a government official said Wednesday.

There is speculation that the United States may be uncomfortable with Seoul's latest offer for military and family reunions talks with the North at a time when it is pressing for tougher sanctions over North Korea's test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

South Korea's unification ministry said that the South, the U.S. and Japan are closely in consultation and firmly believe that the right conditions should be met for talks aimed at North Korea's denuclearization to resume.

"The proposal for the early stage of contact to resolve humanitarian issues and ease cross-border tensions is a matter that is different from full-fledged talks for North Korea's denuclearization," Lee Eugene, vice spokesperson at the ministry, said at a press briefing.

(LEAD) Seoul views inter-Korean dialogue differently from N.K. nuke talks: official - 1

South Korea on Monday offered to hold inter-Korean military talks on Friday to ease tensions along the tense border and Red Cross talks on Aug. 1 to resume reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The White House said Monday that current conditions are "far away" from those needed to reopen dialogue with North Korea as South Korea proposed inter-Korean military and family reunion talks.

China welcomed Seoul's dialogue offer, saying that the move will help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Japan first said that it is not time to seek dialogue, but to employ sanctions on the North. But it later changed its stance, saying that the proposal is compatible with the latest vow by leaders of South Korea, the U.S. and Japan to strengthen pressure against Pyongyang.

A South Korean civic group said that no country has the right to take issue with South Korea's move to seek inter-Korean dialogue for better ties.

The group is seeking to hold a joint event with their North Korean counterpart on Aug. 15, Korea's liberation day from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule.

It said that it has proposed holding a meeting with representatives of its North Korean counterpart in Pyongyang or in a third country to discuss ways to hold the joint event. It is not known whether Pyongyang will accept the offer or Seoul approve of it.


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