2 Koreas end talks on suspended industrial zone without agreement

North and South Korea ended without an agreement Monday a third round of working-level talks on resuming operations at a joint industrial zone at the North's border city Kaesong that has been shuttered for nearly three months, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.

A fourth round of talks has been set for Wednesday.

Monday, a three-member delegation from each side began a full session of the talks in the morning in Kaesong and head delegates held talks in the afternoon in a failed effort to work out an agreement.

Earlier the sides showed differences in their positions on how to resume operations at the joint industrial zone.

South Korea's head delegate had demanded North Korea implement legal and institutional measures to ensure the safety of South Korean personnel making trips to the zone and also to protect the property of South Korean companies, according to a pool report on the 90 minutes of morning talks in Kaesong.

South Korea also stressed the suspension of the industrial zone never should happen again, the report said.

The head delegate also raised the necessity of developing the industrial zone into an international zone in which business activities of an international level are guaranteed for South Korean and international companies.

The North Korean side did not offer concrete measures as requested by the South and reiterated its position that operations at the industrial zone should be resumed at the earliest possible date.

In the previous rounds, South Korea called on Pyongyang to introduce measures to ensure no further disruption of operations at the industrial zone while proposing that non-Korean companies be allowed to invest there with the aim of turning it into an international industrial area.

South Korea has also urged North Korea to take responsibility for the closure of the zone, which it says has caused considerable damage to its companies running factories there.

Losses claimed by the 123 South Korean companies there have amounted to 1.05 trillion won (about $933 million).

North Korea reportedly demanded the South agree to immediately reopen the industrial zone, with both sides respecting the spirit of the landmark 2000 inter-Korean summit held between then South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

A string of inter-Korean projects were undertaken following the summit, including the Kaesong industrial zone.

"Unless the Kaesong Industrial Complex issue is resolved, there cannot be any progress in inter-Korean relations," the North said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency on Saturday.

The joint industrial zone was shut down in early April and North Korea withdrew all its 53,000 workers, employed by more than 100 South Korean companies, from Kaesong, amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang had cut off communication links with Seoul in March in response to joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises and the South's condemnation of the North's third nuclear test in February in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The industrial zone, which brought together South Korean capital and North Korean labor, has been the last remaining symbol of reconciliation amid the tensions.