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S. Korean firms to discuss inter-Korean biz resumption next week


SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- A civic group comprised of local companies doing business with the North are discussing ways to resume their inter-Korean business suspended for more than three years since May 2010 in a meeting with the unification vice minister next week, it said Friday.

"The companies plan to call for being allowed to visit the North to inspect their facilities and the permission to bring imports from the country such as sand, which have been previously paid for, into the South," said an official of the group.

The Promotion Committee for Vitalizing Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation consists of South Korean companies doing business with the North, excluding the ones operating in the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The complex located in Kaesong, a North Korean city near the inter-Korean border, started its operations in 2003 as the fruit of the first-ever inter-Korean summit in 2000, but closed down in April 2013 when the North withdrew its workers in protest against Seoul's joint military exercises with the U.S. in March.

The complex restarted its operations on Monday after inter-Korean talks.

Except for the Kaesong complex, the Lee Myung-bak government stopped all inter-Korean exchanges in May 2010, imposing sanctions on North Korea in retaliation for the sinking of a South Korean warship blamed on the North.

"It is the first time for companies doing business with North Korea to formally meet with the unification vice minister since the Park Geun-hye government took office in February," the official said.

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