North Korea on Thursday urged South Korea to participate in extensive talks aimed at dramatically enhancing bilateral ties, which have improved slightly in recent days with an agreement to resume joint-economic activities at a business complex on its side of their shared border, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"There is a need to expand cooperation," Pyongyang's propaganda outlet, the Rodong Sinmun, said in an editorial that warned against allowing specific points of contention to stand in the way of better inter-Korean ties.
In the past, Seoul has demanded as a precondition of any broader bilateral negotiations that Pyongyang take concrete steps to show it is sincere about denuclearization and apologize for two 2010 attacks that killed scores of South Koreans.
Meanwhile, Japan's senior atomic negotiator traveled to Seoul on Thursday for meetings with high-ranking South Korean Foreign Ministry officials that were anticipated to include discussion of the nuclear impasse with North Korea, Kyodo News reported.
The two East Asian democracies gradually have deepening their military cooperation -- something that the United States has strongly supported. Earlier this month, South Korean and Japanese fighter planes for the first time flew together in a joint military exercise -- the U.S.-led Red Flag Alaska drill, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.
"We have allies that are now on the same sheet of music able to cooperate, integrate and face a common foe (North Korea)," U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Tom Pagano, who led planning for the drill, said in an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.