NKorea invited to Seoul security talks for first time

South Korea asks Pyongyang to be involved in September's meeting of more than 30 vice defense ministers

NKorea invited to Seoul security talks for first time

World Bulletin / News Desk

 North Korea was handed an opportunity by its southern neighbor Friday to join a high-level global defense meeting later this year -- the Seoul Defense Dialogue (SDD).

South Korea invited the North via their tense border, according to Seoul's Defense Ministry.

The three-day gathering of vice defense chiefs from 33 countries is scheduled to take place at a hotel in the South Korean capital from Sept. 9.

"Since the launch of the SDD in 2012, it is the first time South Korea has invited North Korea," a ministry official was quoted as saying by local news agency Yonhap.

If Pyongyang accepts the invitation, it would be a chance to bring together all the nations involved in stalled six-party talks on denuclearizing North Korea, including the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

The presence of both Koreas would be significant in itself, as the South's Defense Ministry left open the possibility of bilateral talks.

The two sides never officially closed the 1950-53 Korean War with a peace treaty, but Seoul has been keen on improving ties in line with next month's 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

South Korea's parliamentary leader also moved to boost relations Friday, by suggesting a meeting with his North Korean counterpart around August's celebrations.

National Assembly Speaker Chung Ui-hwa said in a speech before senior officials that he would be prepared to travel to any location.

Seoul and Pyongyang held a separate government-level discussion a day earlier over a wage dispute that has overshadowed production in recent weeks at the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Park -- a rare example of cooperation.

Their failure to reach a breakthrough, however, was indicative of how deadlocked the Koreas are on a number of key issues -- not least the North's nuclear ambitions.

Last Mod: 17 Temmuz 2015, 10:39
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