S. Korea proposes talks on seized assets

July 8, 2011 at 11:43 AM
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SEOUL, July 8 (UPI) -- South Korea proposed conducting talks next week with North Korea over assets seized at a mountain resort used for a stalled tourism program, an official said.

Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said the proposal, extended Friday, left the decision about when and where to meet up to North Korea, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

It was not immediately known whether North Korea would accept the offer, South Korean officials said

North Korea recently said it would take unspecified legal steps to dispose of the assets, estimated to be about $278 million, in the jointly run North Korean mountain resort unless South Korean company officials visit the resort by July 13 with plans on how to handle their property. North Korean officials have stepped up pressure on South Korea over the tour project in what observers say could be a move to resume the program that was a key revenue stream for the impoverished country.

South Korean officials said they would explore diplomatic and other avenues to protect the interests of tour operators, the South Korean news agency said.

Officials in Seoul also indicated they could raise the matter at a U.N. World Tourism Organization meeting in October, if necessary.

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