North Korea has called for a meeting with South Korea next week to discuss ways to fully reopen their jointly-run Kaesong industrial complex. The South had warned that uneventful talks had stretched its patience.
Shortly after South Korea announced on Wednesday that it would begin paying compensation to companies that would be forced to abandon their factories in the Kaesong facility, North Korea offered guarantees that its workers would continue working at the factory and proposed August 14 for another meeting between the two sides.
Kaesong has been closed since April, when Pyongyang pulled its 53,000 workers from the site due to heightened military tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Seoul is eager to get its workers back on the job at Kaesong but has been frustrated at the lack of cooperation from North Korea.
On July 28, South Korea called for a final round of talks to settle the issue, but until Wednesday North Korea had not responded. On Sunday, South Korea indicated it was "reaching the limits" of its patience but has agreed to the fresh talks. Six previous meetings to resolve the Kaesong issue have been fruitless.
The proposal on the table from North Korea guarantees South Korean companies full access to Kaesong, the attendance of North Korean workers, and the safety of South Koreans working there.
The statement from the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, North Korea's ministry for all matters that relate to the South, also said future operation of Kaesong should never again be "affected by any situation in any case."
mz/ipj (AFP, AP, Reuters)