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N Korean, S Korean delegations to discuss future of Kaeson industrial region

July 22, 2013, 3:16 UTC+3

The industrial zone was closed for the first time over the nine years of its existence

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PYONGYANG, July 22 (Itar-Tass) - Representatives of the two Korean states are due to hold a fifth round of extremely complicated talks on the destiny of the Kaesong industrial complex. The meeting is due to take place again in the North Korean city of Kaesong, which is located some ten kilometers away from the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.

No substantial progress was reached in the previous rounds of talks. The sides recognize the importance of resumption of economic operations in the Kaesong industrial park, which brings lucrative earnings to both countries, yet they are unable so far to agree on the terms that will guarantee its uninterrupted functioning in the future.

As a result, the delegations of the North and South confined the discussion to declaring their positions.

Korean Central News Agency said in a comment on the new round of negotiations that the previous rounds did not produce any results through South Korea’s fault, as the South Korean delegation had taken an insincere and unscrupulous position.

The agency said the North Korean delegation came out with well-specified proposals on the resumption of operations in the Kaesong industrial area that were suspended more than three months ago.

Pyongyang believes in the importance of refraining from any military and/or political actions that might frustrate the normal functioning of the Kaesong industrial zone. In addition, it proposes to set up a special mechanism that would guarantee the unimpeded functioning of the industrial park, security of the personnel working there, as well as protection of investments and properties.

However, the South Korean delegation has begun to put up obstacles in the course of the talks, thus relegating all the responsibility for the crisis in Kaesong exclusively to the North Korean side.

Nonetheless, the two sides have decided to hold the fifth round of talks.

At the moment, Pyongyang does not obstruct either the entry or the exit of South Korean businessmen who bring finished products, raw materials and production equipment there.

During a yet another period of tense relations between the North and the South that aggravated in April, the North Korean authorities said the operations of the industrial zone, which had for many years been an emblem of reconciliation and cooperation between the two Koreas, would be suspended and the possibility of fully stopping or resuming all the work there would be scrutinized diligently.

Pyongyang officials explained for their step making references to the ostensible willingness of the South Korean regime to turn the zone into a hotbed of confrontation between the fellow-countrymen in the North and the South.

More than a hundred medium-sized South Korean companies were working in Kaesong at the time of suspension of activity. The local industrial facilities employed about 800 citizens of South Korea and about 53,000 educated and highly-qualified North Korean workers, who were engaged in the textiles and clothing production, assembling of watches, and manufacturing of electric household appliances.

The industrial zone was closed for the first time over the nine years of its existence.

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