Two Koreas set to hold 4th meeting on Kaesong complex

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea will hold their fourth talks on the normalization of the shuttered joint factory park on Wednesday, in a meeting expected to serve as a turning point in determining the fate of the key symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

During their third working-level talks over the suspended Kaesong Industrial Complex on Monday, delegations of the two countries failed to nail down an agreement to revive the factory park, which has been suspended nearly for three months.

The two countries will hold another round of working-level talks in the complex on Wednesday, Kim Ki-woong, the chief representative of South Korea's three-men delegation to the talks, said following the Monday dialogue.

During their first dialogue over the Kaesong park earlier this month, the countries agreed to work toward resuming the joint economic project, forged after the landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000 which marked the heyday of inter-Korean rapprochement.

But the countries exchanged only barbs over the two following talks as they set forth different conditions for resuming the joint park.

The South has demanded the North promise not to unilaterally shut down the park again and come up with a legal system to protect the safety and property rights of South Koreans who invest and work in the park located in the North Korean city just north of the inter-Korean demarcation line.

The North, however, has continued to blame the South for the suspension of operations at Kaesong, according to the South's Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

The operations of the park, one of only a few inter-Korean exchange programs that survived former President Lee Myung-bak's hard-line policy toward the North, ground to a halt in early April as North Korea withdrew North Korean labor workers there amid escalating inter-Korean tensions.

As the two Koreas are expected to struggle to bridge their gaps on the conditions for reviving the park during the Wednesday meeting, analysts raised skepticism over the prospect of the two countries forging a final agreement in the near future.

"Given that they strongly highlighted their own stances during the third past meeting, the coming dialogue could mark a bumpy road ahead," said Chang Yong-suk, a researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University.

"If the on-going dialogue process is prolonged further, skepticism over the usefulness of the talks may be inevitable," he said.

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