North Korea on Monday proposed a halt to all cross-border military hostilities starting on the 42nd anniversary of a historic bilateral accord between the two Koreas on July 4. It also demanded South Korea and the U.S. cancel annual joint military exercises scheduled for August.
The North's National Defense Commission urged South Korea to take measures under the three principles of independence, peace and national unity as agreed in the 1972 Joint Statement. It also proposed reaffirming two joint declarations agreed by the leaders of the two Koreas on June 15, 2000 and Oct. 4, 2007.
It urged all military hostilities including psychological warfare to stop at midnight on Friday. The South Korea-U.S. drills should be cancelled to "create an atmosphere for inter-Korean exchanges and to prepare for the upcoming Incheon Asian Games," it said.
A government official here said, "We've never conducted any military hostilities in the first place, and psychological warfare has already been suspended since inter-Korean talks in February."
But he added it is "impossible" to cancel the annual exercises with the U.S. "We're trying to work out what the North's intention is and how to respond, but there's probably nothing new here."
But he said Seoul will be eager to see what the North does next since the last time it issued an "important statement," it proposed cross-border talks 15 days later.
In the proposal on Monday, Pyongyang called for laying "the groundwork for reconciliation and cooperation on the day marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of a document on July 7, 1994 for an inter-Korean summit" between then leaders Kim Young-sam and Kin Il-sung.
Prof. Yoo Ho-yeol of Korea University said, "The proposal seems to me a self-justifying one aimed at showing off its efforts to work for peace on the Korean Peninsula ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to South Korea" on July 3.