PYONGYANG, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Saturday proposed to resume talks with South Korea on tourism, an industrial zone and Red Cross-related issues in late January or early February.
The DPRK proposed an unconditional and early reopening of the talks between the North and South, whose level, venue and date may be decided under a bilateral agreement, said a statement issued by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.
The suspended Red Cross talks and talks on the resumption of tour of Mt. Kumgang and the issue of Kaesong Industrial Zone should be restarted at an early date, it stressed, suggesting they be held in Kaesong at the end of January or in the first half of February.
The statement, quoted by the official KCNA news agency, called for "settling the grave situation prevailing in Korea as early as possible and paving the way for improved relations between the North and the South as well as peace and prosperity."
"In view of the urgent situation, the aspiration and demand of the times and the nation and in the light of the public opinion at home and abroad, the proposal was the most just and timely patriotic one," it added.
The statement also proposed reopening the Panmunjom North-South Red Cross passage and the Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation in Kaesong Industrial Zone as "a measure of good faith for opening the channel of dialogue and improving the North-South relations."
The "Panmunjom Red Cross liaison representatives of the North will soon begin their work and those concerned of the North will be dispatched to the above-said office to be permanently stationed there," it said.
The statement urged South Korean authorities to "discard any unnecessary misgiving" and "positively respond to the North's proposal."
Tensions have been running high on the Korean Peninsula after an exchange of artillery fire between the DPRK and South Korea in disputed waters off the peninsula's west coast last November. Seoul later staged a series of military drills in that area despite Pyongyang's repeated warnings of counterattack.