North and South Korea meet to discuss reopening Kaesong industrial zone | News | DW | 10.07.2013
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North and South Korea meet to discuss reopening Kaesong industrial zone

North and South Korea have failed to reach an agreement on reopening the the jointly-run Kaesong industrial zone, which was shut down in April. The two sides said they planned to meet again next week.

Plans to reopen the Kaesong industrial zone showed little progress on Wednesday, as representatives from Pyongyang and Seoul met again for talks. Leaders said they would meet again on Monday, but initial reports did not indicate what had stalled the negotiations.

South Korean delegates met their North Korean counterparts in the city of Kaesong Wednesday for a meeting aimed at restarting the complex's factories, which are run jointly by North and South Korea.

The talks follow a weekend meeting where the two sides said in a joint statement that they had agreed in principle to reopen Kaesong when the conditions were ripe. On Tuesday, more than 20 South Korean government officials and workers visited the complex to inspect the machinery.

As the talks got underway, South Korea's chief delegate Suh Ho said the meeting was "one of the first steps towards trust."

The South wants firm safeguards from the North against shutting Kaesong down unilaterally and a pledge that there will be uninterrupted movement in and out of the complex.

Seoul also wants compensation for losses as a result of the suspension, a demand that Pyongyang is unlikely to accept.

"We will not accept circumstances reverting back to the way they were before the crisis," South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Suk told reporters in Seoul on Tuesday.

In April, North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers from the complex in retaliation against South Korean and US joint military exercises, citing the drills as a provocation.

Earlier this year, North Korea threatened nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington after the United Nations tightened sanctions against it for conducting its third nuclear test in February.

Kaesong emerged nearly a decade ago as a means toward fostering unification between the two countries. The complex, which houses 123 South Korean firms on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone, created $2 billion (1.5 billion euros) a year in cross-border trade - a crucial source of hard currency for reclusive Pyongyang.

hc/mz (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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