No Deal After Koreas Talks on Re-Opening Joint Factory
July 10, 2013
by VOA News
South Korea and North Korea failed to reach a deal Wednesday during talks aimed at re-opening a joint factory complex that recently fell victim to increased military tensions.
Seoul's Unification Ministry says the two sides agreed to meet again on Monday at the Kaesong industrial park, which lies just north of the demilitarized zone separating the countries.
The talks followed a tense, 15-hour meeting on Sunday where both countries agreed to take steps to re-open the eight-year-old facility that serves as an important barometer of Korean relations.
It has been closed since April, when North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers as part of an angry response to international sanctions against its latest nuclear test. Seoul demanded its workers leave in early May.
Many analysts expect slow progress on the talks, as both sides have given indications they are far apart on a number of issues.
South Korean officials say they want assurances that operations at the complex will continue even during future periods of heightened tension. They also want the North to give South Korean businessmen better access to the facility.
For its part, North Korea has failed to take responsibility for the closure of Kaesong, instead blaming unspecified South Korean provocations.
Earlier Wednesday, a group of South Korean businessman and officials visited Kaesong in order to inspect equipment and retrieve materials, which could be damaged by the current rainy season. After returning, some of the delegates said the complex seems to be in good condition.
Kaesong is the last remaining symbol of cooperation between the two foes, and is seen as a bellwether of Korean relations. Although work at the center has been suspended during times of heightened tensions, it has never been shut down completely since it was established in 2004.
The complex, which relies on South Korean know-how and cheap North Korean labor, was a key source of hard currency for the North's troubled economy.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.
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