Koreas start talks to reform management of Kaesong park

SEOUL, Sept. 4 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea began detailed negotiations Wednesday on ways to reform the management of a suspended joint industrial park, protect investment there and internationalize the complex.

The two sub-committee meetings that began in North Korea at 10 a.m. come after both sides agreed on Aug. 14 to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North, and inked a deal last Thursday to create a new joint management committee.

The joint committee, co-chaired by officials representing Seoul and Pyongyang, is made up of four sub-committees, and will receive administrative assistance from a permanent secretariat. It will be in charge of running the industrial complex just north of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and remains the main economic link between the two countries.

A full committee meeting held Monday failed to make serious headway as the two sides were unable to resolve the critical issue of when the complex will be fully opened for business. South Korea wants safeguards in place before normal operations resume, while the North has called for its immediate resumption.

Before the North unilaterally pulled its 53,000 workers from the park in early April that effectively shut down the complex, it was run by the North's General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone.

Related to the meetings, Seoul's Ministry of Unification said officials at the management reform sub-committee will touch on safeguards to protect investment at Kaesong, and revise rules to prevent a recurrence of the work stoppage for non-economic reasons.

At the internationalization sub-committee, the two sides will seek ways to attract foreign investment that can raise the stature and competitiveness of the industrial complex that is home to 123 South Korean companies.

Sources at the ministry said that results of the talks will be forwarded to the second joint committee meeting set to take place next Tuesday.

The two Koreas, meanwhile, will hold two other sub-committee meetings on Thursday that will touch on the movement of personnel and materials over the DMZ and the safety of South Korean workers who have to stay at the complex for days at a time. Officials will also deliberate on the lifting of restrictions on communication, Internet use and customs inspections.

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