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Talks to reopen jointly run industrial complex slowed by disagreements

July 6, 2013 at 1:56 PM   |   Comments

PANMUNJOM, South Korea, July 6 (UPI) -- Talks between North and South Korea on reopening a jointly run industrial facility were bogged down Saturday over differences about priorities, officials said.

South Korean officials want concrete assurances from Pyongyang it would never again shut down the Kaesong Industrial Zone, while North Korea wanted operations to resume as quickly as possible, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The facility, on the North Korean side of the border, closed abruptly after North Korea's third nuclear test in February. Manufactured goods and raw materials were left behind at the facility as North Korea pulled out 53,000 workers in April. South Korean employees, primarily managers, were then forced to leave.

A South Korean official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Seoul demanded an "explicit guarantee" from the North the plant would not be closed again and an apology to companies for losses resulting from the shutdown.

North Korean officials did not response to the demands, but insisted the park be reopened as soon as possible, the official said.

North Korea agreed to allow South Korean companies to retrieve finished products but balked at permitting raw materials to be removed.

Pyongyang said Wednesday South Korean business executives could visit the complex to maintain equipment and inspect their facilities, the BBC reported. South Korea suggested Thursday that talks be held about reopening the facility and the North agreed to them late that day.

The Kaesong facility was a major source of revenue for the North.

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