North Korea proposes end to hostilities with South - with conditions

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Story highlights

  • The South Korean Defense Ministry declines to comment on the proposal
  • North Korea calls for an end to hostilities starting Friday
  • But it makes a number of requests unlikely to sit well with South Korea
  • They include ceasing intrusions at sea and canceling joint drills with the U.S.

North Korea on Monday proposed that "all hostile military activities" with South Korea "come to a complete halt" this week, but it attached a number of conditions that Seoul is likely to reject.

The North's highest military body, the National Defense Commission, issued a statement calling for South Korea to halt intrusions at sea and firing drills near islands close to the two countries' disputed maritime border.

The commission also said it wanted South Korea to stop "attracting" U.S. military hardware, including strategic bombers and a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, into the region.

And it asked that South Korea cancel its planned joint military drills with the United States in August.

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Seoul and Washington have dismissed previous demands from North Korea for joint U.S.-South Korean drills to be called off.

North Korea said that ending the hostilities, starting Friday, would help improve the atmosphere between the two sides ahead of "exchanges and contacts that are scheduled to actively happen between North and South."

The South Korean Defense Ministry declined to comment on the North Korean statement Monday.

Tensions have flared periodically between the two Koreas in recent months, notably along their maritime boundary, known as the Northern Limit Line.

In late March, the two sides both fired hundreds of shells across their western sea border.

Last month, the South Korean Navy fired warning shots after three North Korean patrol boats crossed the line. And a few days later, North Korea fired at least two shells near a South Korean patrol boat in the Yellow Sea.

North Korea has also carried out a series of missile and rocket launches into the sea, drawing criticism from South Korea, the United States and the United Nations.

North and South Korea remain technically at war after the Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty, in 1953.

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