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Talks on shuttered inter-Korean factory park rupture, Seoul warns it can take grave action if N.K. fails to accepts safeguards

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- Weeks-long inter-Korean talks aimed at reopening a shuttered industrial park in North Korea faced collapse Thursday, with both delegates exchanging sharp accusations.

After the latest round of talks ended without progress, North Korea threatened to re-position its military at the factory park in its border city of Kaesong. The zone was opened in 2004 after North Korea had relocated its military units stationed there.

South Korea, on its part, refused to back down, warning that it will be forced to take "grave actions" unless North Korea accepts its demand for firm guarantees that the factory park will never be shut down again.

"The Kaesong industrial complex is at a crossroads," South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a news release. "In the six round of talks we have consistently made known that unilateral closure must not occur in the future and Kaesong must become 'internationalized' so it can grow."

According to South Korean officials, North Korea, throughout the negotiations, stuck to their position, demanding only that the industrial park, which has remained shut down since early April, be reopened immediately and unconditionally.

The industrial park was effectively shut down in early April when North Korea pulled out all of its 53,000 workers hired by the 123 South Korean plants operating there, citing the then ongoing U.S.-involved joint military exercises in South Korea.

Chances of reopening the industrial park any time soon appear to be slim as another major joint South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises are scheduled to be held in mid-August.

After Thursday's talks ended without agreement, the chief North Korean delegate, Park Chol-su, put the blame on South Korea.

"If the South does not have any will to normalize the industrial park, the fate of the joint venture is clear," Park told South Korean reporters.

When asked whether he thought the talks have broken, Park said, "it is moving in that direction."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/yonhap-news-agency/130725/talks-shuttered-inter-korean-factory-park-rupture-seoul-warn