Two Koreas hold 5th industrial zone talks

Two Koreas hold 5th industrial zone talks

SEOUL - Agence France-Presse
Two Koreas hold 5th industrial zone talks

Head of the South Korean delegation Kim (L) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park during their fifth round of talks in Kaesong. REUTERS photo

North and South Korea held a fifth round of talks yesterday on reopening a joint industrial complex, after previous meetings failed to agree on a framework for resuming operations.

Production at the Kaesong estate has been suspended since North Korea withdrew its 53,000 workers from the complex in April at the height of soaring military tensions with the South. Working-level officials from both sides have already met four times this month to discuss the future of the complex. The talks have been dominated by mutual recrimination over the cause of the shutdown, and the unwillingness of either side to be seen to make any concession to get Kaesong running again.

“We will try our best to produce results that are acceptable to South Korean people,” Kim Ki-Woong, the chief of the South’s delegation, said.

The South is insisting North Korea provides guarantees to prevent any repetition of what Seoul insists was the unilateral closure of Kaesong by Pyongyang. The North says it was not responsible, arguing that its hand was forced by hostile Seoul actions and intimidation - in particular a series of joint military exercises with the United States.

The South has proposed allowing foreign firms to operate there in the apparent belief that it would make it more difficult for the North to shut down the complex at will. North Korea wants an unconditional and early restart of operations, and both sides have accused the other of lacking sincerity in the process.