South Korea's defense ministry issued a statement Friday morning revealing that North Korea had not yet given a reply to the South’s dialogue offer. The statement added it had become difficult to open the talks proposed for Friday.
The ministry again urged North Korea to hold bilateral military talks on easing border tension and restoring a dialogue channel for the sake of addressing the urgent issue of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
The ministry called on the North to respond positively to the dialogue offer as soon as possible.
The meeting was proposed for Friday at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone.
In a news conference earlier Monday, Vice Defense Minister Suh Choo-suk proposed the talks, suggesting the two Koreas' militaries discuss ways to end all hostile acts near the border. “Hostile acts” were considered to include loudspeaker broadcasts near the border and distribution of anti-North leaflets by South Korean civic groups, which Pyongyang has sensitively responded to and called for a halt.
In a separate news conference the same day, the South Korean Red Cross also proposed a meeting with its North Korean counterpart to arrange inter-Korean family reunions this fall. North Korea had remained silent.
Then on Thursday, North Korea’s state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said that it is deceitful for Seoul to hope to improve inter-Korean ties, while taking a confrontational stance against the North. The statement is seen as an indirect rejection of Seoul’s proposal for talks.
South Korea had also hoped for inter-Korean hotlines to be restored if and when North Korea responds to the proposed talks, but this hope has also been dashed. Cross-border communication channels have been cut off since February of last year, with the closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
President Moon Jae-in had called for fundamental peace building measures on the peninsula and the resolution of the North’s nuclear issue. He also suggested the two Koreas stop hostile acts in the border region starting on the 64th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement on July 27th.
Opinions are split over Pyongyang’s intentions.
Some say the North is taking time to analyze the pros and cons contained in President Moon’s Berlin speech and the results of his summit meeting in the U.S. Some experts say the North could make a counterproposal to hold a comprehensive meeting, figuring it won’t have much to gain from military talks alone.
Others say Pyongyang will further observe Seoul’s response and follow-up measures before deciding on whether to accept the dialogue offer. But the regime could also completely ignore the move and simply continue with its ambition to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile.