| SEOUL, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- South Korea proposed a February date for preparatory military talks with North Korea, as the situation on the Korean Peninsula remained tense, officials said.
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Any meeting would be the first such session since the North's shelling of a South Korean border island in November in which four died, Yonhap news agency reported. South Korea also wants the North to take responsibility for the sinking of its warship last March in which more than 40 sailors died.
The venue for the meeting, proposed for Feb.11, is expected to be the border truce village of Panmunjom. The session would be used to set the time, place and agenda for a higher-level military meeting, South Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.
The proposal was made through a military communication line and Seoul is awaiting a response from Pyongyang, Kim said.
Yonhap reported the South's Unification Ministry urged the North to agree to hold separate inter-Korean talks on its nuclear programs. That appeal came as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg arrived in Seoul for talks on the North's nuclear issues.
The six-nation talks on the North's denuclearization have been stalled since December 2008. China, one of the members, is seeking resumption of the talks with the two Koreas, Russia, the United States and Japan.
During Chinese President Hu Jintao's U.S. visit last week, there were media reports Washington informed Beijing it would redeploy its forces in the region if China doesn't put more pressure on North Korea to improve relations with the South.
Chosun Ilbo newspaper, quoting a government official, said the Steinberg trip comes as the United States and South Korea want to take up North Korea's uranium enrichment program at the U.N. Security Council. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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