2 Koreas end 4th round of Kaesong talks without breakthrough

The fourth round of working-level talks between North and South Korea on resuming operations at a joint industrial zone in the North's border city of Kaesong ended Wednesday without a breakthrough, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry.

At the talks held in Kaesong, the two sides, however, agreed to hold a fifth round of talks on Monday in Kaesong.

Kim Ki Woong, a senior Unification Ministry official and the head delegate to the talks, said North Korea has "not shown positions that could be taken as progress" in the talks.

"(North Korea) has not shown a position different from its previous one, regarding measures to prevent the closure of the industrial zone from happening again, and the North's positions are poles apart from ours on other issues like measures to protect (South Korean companies) investment," Kim told reporters.

Earlier Monday, an unnamed South Korean Unification Ministry official said, "North Korea has repeated its previous position and said there are differences in positions on the resumption of the industrial zone and its normalization," according to a pool report from reporters covering the talks being held in Kaesong.

In the morning session, South Korea demanded that North Korea take measures to ensure the unilateral disruption of the industrial zone would not happen again.

A three-member delegation from each side was expected to try to narrow the gap at the talks being held in Kaesong as their positions remained poles apart in the previous rounds.

In the previous rounds, South Korea 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.

South Korea also said the suspension of the industrial zone never should happen again and 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.

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.