South Korea has proposed military talks with North Korea, the first formal overture to Pyongyang by the government of President Moon Jae-in, to discuss ways to avoid hostile acts near the heavily militarised border.
But Pyongyang has staged a series of missile launches in violation of United Nations resolutions, most recently on July 4 when it test-fired its first ICBM, a move which triggered global alarm and a push by President Donald Trump to impose harsher United Nations sanctions on the country.
In an act to rein in North Korea, the U.S. is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior USA officials said last week.
Still, the paper expressed "relief" that Moon has signaled a departure from the policies of his conservative predecessors. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea.
"The Ministry of National Defense (MND) propose to North Korea to hold the military talks between the South and North Korean authorities on July 21 at Tongilgak on the North Korean side... as follow up measures to the suggestions", South Korean Vice Minister of National Defense Suh Choo-suk told assembled media during a special news briefing.
South Korean army soldiers pass by military vehicles deployed in the Korean War era at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 17, 2017. The two sides technically remain at war but Mr Moon, who came to power in May, has pledged to engage the North in dialogue as well as bring pressure to impede its nuclear and missile programmes.
Pyongyang cut off military communication in the Yellow Sea (known as West Sea in Korea) in February previous year, in response to the South Korean government's unilateral decision to shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) that month.
If realized, the talks would be the first inter-Korean dialogue since December 2015. But he has achieved little progress, with North Korea test-firing a series of newly developed missiles. Analysts say the ICBM that was tested could reach Alaska.
Outside experts believe the South Korean broadcasts and leaflets sting in Pyongyang more because the authoritarian country worries that the broadcasts will demoralize front-line troops and residents and eventually weaken the grip of absolute leader Kim Jong Un.
Novak said the military talks would be held first.
Previously, Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South past year.
The last time the two Koreas held a military consultation was in 2014.