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North Korea proposes talks with Seoul next week

North Korea has suggested new talks with South Korea next week, following an agreement made in August to de-escalate tensions. Officials in Seoul say they are studying the offer.

North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea sent Seoul a notice on Thursday proposing initial talks on November 26.

It suggested the working-level dialogue take place at the border truce village of Panmunjom, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement was signed.

The North's official KCNA news agency said the suggestion followed an agreement in August where the two rivals pledged to restart talks.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said it was studying the offer, having made similar overtures over the past two months, which it said had been ignored by Pyongyang.

Earlier this year, cross border military tensions brought the two enemies to the brink of all-out war as the North sent troops to close to the Demilitarized Zone, a buffer zone that runs between the two countries, and the South began broadcasting non-stop propaganda across the border.

Watch video 02:12

Heartbreaking reunions in North Korea

Rebuilding relations

The two Koreas

reached an agreement in August

that included a commitment to resume high-level talks.

Under the terms of the August understanding, Seoul switched off propaganda loudspeakers and the North expressed regret over recent a landmine blast that maimed two South Korean soldiers.

The South interpreted the regret as an "apology" but the North's powerful National Defense Commission has since stressed that it was meant only as an expression of sympathy.

The

two sides held reunions last month of families separated

during the 1950-53 Korean war.

North and South Korea are technically still at war because the conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Pyongyang is also suffering under a raft of UN sanctions imposed after its three nuclear weapons tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

On Monday, the United Nations denied news reports at

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would visit North Korea

over the next week.

His office said Ban has repeatedly said he is willing to play any constructive role, including traveling to the DPRK, to help bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Ban previously visited the North in 2006 when he was South Korean Foreign Minister.

mm/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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