NKorea says its proposed talks with South could prevent ‘war’

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SEOUL: North Korea on Saturday suggested holding a preparatory meeting with South Korea ahead of proposed military talks between the two foes that it said could “prevent in advance a second Korean war.”

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The military dialogue had initially been offered by leader Kim Jung-un in his speech to a rare congress of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party earlier this month, but Seoul dismissed it as posturing.

Pyongyang reiterated the offer on Friday, only to be rebuffed again by Seoul the same day.

Apparently undeterred, on Saturday the North pushed for a preparatory meet.

“We propose to hold working-level contact for opening the north-south military authorities’ talks at the date and place both sides deem convenient in late May or early June,” North Korea’s defense ministry was quoted as saying in a statement carried by state media.

“It is an urgent matter directly related to the existence of the Korean nation to defuse the military tension and prevent in advance a second Korean war” it added.

Seoul insists it will only consider engaging in substantive dialogue with Pyongyang if the regime takes a tangible step towards denuclearization.

The North has repeatedly said its nuclear arsenal is not up for negotiation. AFP

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