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South Korea proposes military talks with North on cross-border railway tests

South Korea proposes military talks with North on cross-border railway tests

South Korea has proposed military talks with the North this week to try to win its consent for test runs of trains across their heavily armed border, the South's Defense Ministry said Monday.
Seoul proposed the discussions for Thursday. The two sides agreed during economic talks earlier this month to conduct the tests on May 17, but that accord lacked the necessary consent from the North's military.
Last year, the North called off similar agreed-upon tests at the last minute, saying its military did not agree to them.
The trial runs would be the first time trains cross the border in more than half a century.
The South proposed on Monday that working-level military officials meet Thursday at the border village of Panmunjom to discuss the issue, the ministry said.
It would the two sides' first military contact in nearly a year.
Last year the North's military refused to agree to the rail tests, citing the South's rebuff of its long-running demand that their western sea border be redrawn.
The North does not recognize the current sea border, demarcated by the United Nations at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and has long claimed that it should be further south.
The waters around the border are rich fishing grounds, and boats from the two Koreas routinely jostle for position during the May-June crab-catching season. Their navies fought deadly skirmishes in 1999 and 2002, killing several sailors and sinking six ships.
On Monday, the South's Defense Ministry also said it deployed a destroyer around the western sea border as a precaution.
The two Koreas remain technically in a state of conflict since the Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.