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Koreas hold talks about reopening joint industrial complex

In unusual talks between the sparring nations, North and South Korea meet to discuss reopening joint industrial complex, closed since May.

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From the highly secretive and censored nation, a North Korean soldier monitors the border with South Korea. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

North and South Korea held rare talks Sunday on the status of the Kaesong joint industrial park, which has been closed since May as tensions on the peninsula ramped up. 

Each side in the conflict sent three representatives to Tongilgak, which is located in the neutral village of Panmunjom, after the North agreed to the South's demand that government talks take place before businesspeople paid a visit to the shared plants. 

Read more from GlobalPost: North Korea plays phone tag

According to Yonhap, the South asked the North to provide a guarantee that it would not force a shutdown of the profitable industrial park again, although the news agency said the North didn't respond to the request directly, and instead requested an immediate re-opening of the facility. 

The talks were not entirely positive, noted AFP, which wrote that the meeting saw the "two sides talking across each other over what to discuss first."

North Korea's chief delegate Pak Chol-Su said there were "a multitude of issues to discuss, but the issue of preventing damage to facilities from monsoon rains should take precedence," added AFP. 

The Sunday talks "were in consideration of the damages to the companies operating in Kaesong after three months of suspension and the beginning of monsoon season," said Kim Hyung-suk, a spokesman for the South Korea's Unification Ministry, according to CNN. "The Kaesong issue can only be resolved through dialogue by government authorities."

“North Korea is trying to showcase both domestically and internationally that it is willing to ease tension with South Korea and take the lead in doing so,” said Kim Yong Hyun, a North Korean studies professor at Dongguk University in Seoul, speaking to Bloomberg.

“North Korea’s top priority right now is senior-level talks with the Americans which could get them much-needed aid, and the U.S. is unwilling to engage the North when inter-Korean tensions are so high.”

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/north-korea/130706/koreas-hold-talks-about-reopening-joint-indust