Two Koreas begin another round of talks on Kaesong complex

July 17, 2013 at 12:16 AM
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PYONGYANG, North Korea, July 17 (UPI) -- North and South Korea, unable to reach agreement in earlier rounds, met again Wednesday to negotiate the reopening of their idled Kaesong industrial complex.

Wednesday's working-level talks, marking their fourth round on the contentious issue, opened in the same North Korean border city of Kaesong where the industrial park is located.

The 10-year-old Kaesong facility, the only economic link between the two Koreas, with 123 South Korean firms participating, was shuttered in early April after North Korea, maintaining its belligerent posture, unilaterally pulled its 53,000 workers and banned the entry of South Korean representatives and supplies into the complex. The complex was set up following a 2000 summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

North Korea, an impoverished isolated Communist country whose nuclear and long-range missile tests and other provocations have escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula, last month accepted South Korea's proposal to hold talks on resuming operations at the Kaesong complex, but so far the two sides haven't been able to reach an agreement.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, responsible for inter-Korean affairs, said Wednesday's talks were being conducted by three-member delegations from each side, Yonhap News reported.

South Korea has demanded the talks focus on internationally accepted safeguards so the complex can be kept running without being affected by political and other non-economic developments. The South also wants the North to take responsibility for the current impasse and seeks changes to rules relating to communications, passage and customs inspections governing the industrial park.

North Korea, which apparently wants an immediate resumption of operations, had blamed Seoul for the failure to reach agreement last week. Yonhap said the North also has accused the South of fueling tensions on the Korean Peninsula by holding military drills with the United States.

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