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Two Koreas discuss reopening Kaesong

July 10, 2013 at 7:38 AM   |   Comments

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PYONGYANG, North Korea, July 10 (UPI) -- North and South Korea, following up on their weekend meeting, began working-level talks Wednesday on reopening their idled Kaesong industrial complex.

The talks among the delegations of the two countries opened in the North's border city of Kaesong where the complex is located. Operations at the 10-year-old facility, the only economic link between the two Koreas, with 123 South Korean firms participating, were suspended in early April after North Korea, maintaining its belligerent posture, pulled its 53,000 workers and banned the entry of South Korean representatives and supplies into the complex.

Last Saturday, the two sides conducted a lengthy meeting at the border village of Panmunjom, agreeing in principle to normalize operations at the complex, Yonhap News reported.

South Korea's Ministry of Unification said during the first session of Wednesday's talks, the two sides presented their views on what needs to be done to achieve the goal.

South Korea has said the negotiations should focus on internationally accepted safeguards to keep the complex running unaffected by political and non-economic developments. Unification Ministry's Suh Ho said the talks aim to reach an understanding based on international business standards.

The complex was set up following a 2000 summit meeting between then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

The North was expected to demand an immediate resumption of operations and wage hikes for its workers, expanding the size of the complex, building more dormitories and changing tax rules, Yonhap said.

Yonhap said a group of 60 businessmen representing mostly electricity and electronics companies along with 36 support personnel crossed the border Wednesday morning to inspect their production facilities at Kaesong. Sources accompanying the delegation were quoted as saying the plants looked clean on the outside.

Tensions have heightened on the Korean Peninsula since North Korea, in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution, conducted its third nuclear test in February and a long-range rocket launch last December.

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