Koreas Fail to Agree on Joint Factory Restart; More Talks Planned

Monday, 15 Jul 2013 06:30 AM

 

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SEOUL, South Korea  — North and South Korea ended talks without agreement on restarting operations at their jointly run Kaeseong industrial park, instead scheduling a fourth round of negotiations to be held this week.

The two sides will meet again July 17 at the Kaeseong complex located 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of the border, having made no progress Monday, the Unification Ministry said.

Even as the factory park talks drag on, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime has begun toning down its rhetoric, after withdrawing its workers from Kaeseong on April 8 to protest tightened United Nations sanctions and U.S.-South Korean military drills.

Kim’s isolation intensified after China, his biggest backer, joined the United States and South Korea in condemning his nuclear ambitions.

While the ministry said July 7 the two Koreas share a desire to reopen Kaeseong, they haven’t agreed on the details.

South Korea wants the North to take measures to prevent future closures, while the North is calling on the South not to do anything — like conduct military exercises — that hinders operations at Kaeseong.

Independent of Monday’s talks, more than 140 businessmen from 48 textile companies surveyed facilities in Kaeseong and brought back completed goods they left behind when the North shut the zone in April.

"SERIOUS MISFORTUNE"

The outcome of the talks will “have a bearing on overall inter-Korean relations” and the South will face “serious misfortune” if it maintains its “arrogant demeanor,” the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea told the South on July 11, according to a notice carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency on July 13.

South Korean President Park Geun Hye’s government has said it will not engage the North until it gives up its nuclear weapons, aside from talks on joint economic projects and humanitarian issues.

Park was elected last year partly on a pledge to boost ties through “trust-building.” She has said a nuclear-armed North Korea is unacceptable.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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