South Korea proposes inter-Korea talks next month

South Korea proposes inter-Korea talks next month
Park Yang-Kon (R) of South Korea bids farewell to his brother Park Yang-Soo (L) of North Korea as he prepares to depart the North Korean resort area of Mount Kumgang on the third and final day of the first group of family reunion between North and South Korea on February 22, 2014.

SEOUL - A top South Korean official on Monday offered to hold high-level talks with North Korea in January to discuss "mutual concerns", including a reunion of families separated by the Korean War.

Ryoo Kihl-Jae, the South's unification minister in charge of North Korean affairs, said he was willing to meet in Seoul or the North's capital Pyongyang for the rare high-level talks.

"I hope that the North will show an active response to this offer," Ryoo said in a press conference.

"We are willing to discuss any issues of mutual concern," Ryoo said, adding that a formal proposal had been sent to his North Korean counterpart Kim Yang-Gon.

The last round of formal high-level talks was held in February and resulted in the North hosting a rare union of relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

The two Koreas had earlier agreed to restart dialogue when a top-ranking North Korean delegation made a surprise visit to the Asian Games held in the South in October.

The unusual trip raised hopes of a thaw, but was followed by a series of minor military clashes along the border that renewed tensions and talks never materialised.

Ties were strained further when the North angrily slammed the South for allowing its activists to send anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border via hot air balloons.

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