North Korea proposes ceasefire

July 01, 2014 - 2:16:12 am
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un observes a tactical rocket firing drill by the Strategic Force at an unidentified place yesterday.

SEOUL:  North Korea yesterday proposed that the two Koreas halt hostile military activities from later this week -- an apparent show of its desire for peace before a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The surprise suggestion from the North’s top military body, the National Defence Commission (NDC), was made hours after Pyongyang confirmed its second missile test in recent days.

“Let’s show all Koreans and the world a resolute decision to completely stop all military hostile acts of pushing the North-South relations to the brink of a war,” the commission said in a statement reported by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). 

The North is ready to suspend all acts of verbal provocation and slander from Friday, and urged the South to reciprocate, it said.

Earlier this year Seoul dismissed a similar North Korean overture as a “deceptive” propaganda exercise.

The NDC statement also called for an end to live-fire drills and other hostile military activities near the Koreas’ disputed border in the Yellow Sea -- a frequent flashpoint -- from Friday.

There have been no direct military clashes at the maritime border since 2010, but the two sides intermittently fire warning shots there and engage in live-fire drills.

The North also urged the South to scrap its annual joint military exercises with the United States slated for August, to create a favourable mood for this year’s Asian Games in the South Korean city of Incheon.

Pyongyang has promised to send athletes to the games, to be held from September 19 to October 4. 

Xi is visiting Seoul on Thursday and Friday for talks with President Park Geun-Hye before going on to Pyongyang.        AFP

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