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Koreas end talks without deal, schedule new meeting

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 17:32

Paju: South Korea said talks with North Korea on reopening a jointly-run industrial estate ended without agreement today, but the two sides agreed to meet again next week.

The South`s chief delegate Suh Ho said talks on restarting the Kaesong industrial complex`s mothballed factories would continue on July 15, after about four hours of meetings that started Wednesday morning.

"We both agreed that the complex should be maintained and further developed," Suh told reporters at the site just inside North Korea.

"The North argued that it should be resumed as soon as machinery checkups are finished, while we pointed out that the same situation could be repeated even after the reopening if there is no firm guarantee on preventing a recurrence (of the shutdown).
"So it was decided that this issue would be discussed at the next meeting," he added.

The talks follow months of cross-border friction and threats of war by Pyongyang after its February nuclear test attracted tougher UN sanctions, further squeezing its struggling economy.

Kaesong shut down three months ago as relations between the frosty neighbours hit crisis point.But at a rare weekend meeting the North and South agreed in principle to reopen Kaesong, the last remaining symbol of cross-border reconciliation.
Earlier on Wednesday, a vehicle convoy of about 130 South Korean delegates, support staff and factory owners crossed at Paju over the heavily fortified demilitarised border zone that underscores the ever-present tension between two nations, which remain technically at war. Their 1950-53 conflict ended in a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.

The vehicles were outfitted with bright red flags, following border rules aimed at preventing an accidental shooting.

The once-buzzing industrial zone which had previously remained largely resilient to turbulence in relations had the air of a ghost town, according to pool reports from Kaesong.

Factories and convenience stores were shuttered and dark, traffic signals were off and North Korean workers plucked overgrown weeds from the sidewalk outside the 15-storey building where the talks were held.


First Published: Wednesday, July 10, 2013 - 17:31
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