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Dhaka Tribune

North and South Korea hold fresh talks on reopening Kaesong

Update : 10 Jul 2013, 04:23 AM

South and North Korea have started fresh talks on reopening the Kaesong joint industrial complex shut down three months ago.

The talks follow a weekend meeting in which the two sides agreed in principle to reopen the industrial complex.

North Korea withdrew its 53,000 workers from the 123 Seoul-owned factories at the complex in April, citing military tensions and the South's hostility toward the North.

The South withdrew managers from most of the operations in early May.

The Kaesong complex - built in 2004 about 10 kilometres north of the border - is seen as the last remaining symbol of cross-border reconciliation and is a key source of hard currency for North Korea.

The latest round of talks follow months of tension, including threats of war by North Korea after its February nuclear test attracted tougher UN sanctions.

“We’ll do our best to ensure this meeting will lead to restoration of mutual trust and larger cooperation,” South Korea's chief delegate Suh Ho said.

High on the agenda will be a demand from South Korea that North Korea guarantees it will never again unilaterally shut down the South Korean-funded site.

South Korea also wants a pledge to safeguard uninterrupted movement in and out of the complex, as well as compensation for losses stemming from the suspension.

“We will not accept circumstances reverting back to the way they were before the crisis,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Suk said on Tuesday.

The two sides said in a joint statement on Sunday they had agreed to “revive operations of the firms” at the industrial complex “when ready”.

More than 20 visitors from South Korea, including government officials and workers, went to the complex on Tuesday to restart power supplies.

Dozens of South Korean businessmen were expected to inspect their factories on the sidelines of the talks on Wednesday.

However, some factory bosses have threatened to withdraw from the complex, complaining they have fallen victim to political bickering between the two rivals.

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