The Korea Herald


US ‘very unpleasant’ toward Seoul’s push for military talks with NK: report

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : Sept. 27, 2017 - 16:25

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The United States was “very unpleasant” toward South Korea’s decision to propose military talks with North Korea to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula in July, a senior presidential security adviser in Seoul said Wednesday.

President Moon Jae-in’s adviser, professor Moon Jung-in, said that “US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used a strong tone to protest against the decision when he met (South Korean) Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (AP-Yonhap) US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (AP-Yonhap)

Moon Jung-in’s statement, which came during an event marking the 10-year anniversary of the Oct. 4 inter-Korean joint peace declaration, contradicts the Foreign Ministry’s earlier announcement that it had provided the US with sufficient explanation on the proposal.

In July, the Moon Jae-in administration proposed military talks and a separate Red Cross meeting with North Korea at the truce village of Panmunjeom. The invitation was aimed at reviving inter-Korean dialogue channels and a fresh round of reunions for families separated during the Korean War.

But North Korea had remained silent toward both proposals, which many government officials and experts here interpreted as a sign of refusal.

Shortly after, Washington expressed “veiled discomfort” over Seoul’s decision. Then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that the US believed the conditions “that would have to be met” to initiate dialogue with the North “are clearly far away from where we are now.”

Moon Jung-in also underlined the need for an inter-Korean dialogue channel to prevent a full-scale war.

“With the escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, an accidental clash near the armistice line or the western sea border could lead to a full-scale war,” he said.

“Both Koreas must talk with each other to prevent (a war). Inter-Korean talks must be revived. … So Pyongyang can talk with Washington through us when the dialogue channel between the two is closed.”

President Moon also attended the ceremony and urged North Korea to return to dialogue and immediately halt its provocations against the international community.

The joint declaration was the result of the second inter-Korean summit between then-South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in October 2007. The leaders of the two Koreas had reaffirmed inter-Korean cooperation and vowed to build on the previous joint declaration signed in 2000.

South and North Korea are still technically at war, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice.

By Jung Min-kyung (