S. Korea: Resolve standoff by dialogue

April 11, 2013 at 11:16 AM   |   Comments

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SEOUL, April 11 (UPI) -- South Korea's unification minister said he hopes North Korea will negotiate an end to a standoff at a joint industrial complex north of the demilitarized zone.

"The Koreas should discuss ways of normalizing the industrial park through dialogue," Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said Thursday in news conference. "Pyongyang should come to the bargaining table immediately."

Ryoo said suspension of operations at the complex in Kaesong doesn't help the future of the Koreas and is causing distress for South Korean firms and workers at the complex, Yonhap reported.

Operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex halted Tuesday when North Korean workers didn't show up for work. On Monday, North Korea threatened to withdraw all of its workers and suspend operations.

"The North should stop actions that threaten the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian region and start behaving as a responsible member of the international community," Ryoo said.

Ryoo's comments came as intelligence indicated North Korea may be preparing for a missile launch soon.

Relations between the two Koreas have fallen to the lowest level in decades after North Korea took a number of provocative actions -- including nullifying the armistice agreements ending the Korean War, severing the military hotline and shuttering the Kaesong Industrial Complex -- after it was condemned and sanctioned for its nuclear test in February.

Also Thursday, South Korean President Park Geun-hye invited foreign investors to lunch at the presidential palace to assure them it was safe to invest in her country, The New York Times reported.

"Some of you may be worried because North Korea has been escalating tensions," Park said. "But South Korea has achieved a dramatic economic growth and democratization in the past 60 years despite the provocations and threats from North Korea."

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