Another round of talks on Kaesong evades agreement

July 18, 2013 at 1:23 AM
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PYONGYANG, North Korea, July 18 (UPI) -- The two Koreas' latest round of talks on reopening their industrial complex failed again, raising questions whether operations there would resume any time soon.

The two sides in their fourth round of working-level talks in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, where the idled complex is located, could only agree to meet again Monday for the fifth round.

North Korea, reacting to Wednesday's developments, again blamed the South, Yonhap News reported.

"The South side took such very dishonest and insincere attitude as creating artificial hurdles in settling the issues, insisting only on the blame for the crisis in the zone and unilateral assurances against recurrence," the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said. "It only pretended to have the talks and keep them going on, thus making them fruitless."

South Korea, however, said Wednesday's talks ended without a breakthrough because there is still a wide gap between the two sides.

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.

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.

The main sticking point relates to whether the North will commit itself to providing safeguards so the complex can be kept running without being affected by political and other non-economic developments and provide institutional and legal guarantees for the safety and property rights of South Korean investors and workers at Kaesong.

South Korea says the North only wants the complex to be reopened immediately.

Analysts told Yonhap the current dialogue may not lead to the resumption of operations any time soon because of the wide disparity in opinions between the two sides.

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