North, South Korea officials hold talks on joint industrial zone

Sat Jul 6, 2013 9:25am EDT
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By Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - North and South Korean officials held talks on Saturday seeking a way to reopen a jointly run industrial zone, a rare source of steady cash for the impoverished North, a month after their last attempt at dialogue collapsed in acrimony over protocol.

North Korea called for an early restart of the Kaesong Industrial zone, just north of the militarized border, South Korean media reported.

But Seoul's chief delegate Suh Ho sought an assurance from the North that it would not repeat the kind of actions it took in April that led to the halt of the factory project.

North Korea shut down the factories in April, pulling out all 53,000 of its workers and banning South Korean firms from crossing the border with supplies and managers at the height of tensions between the two sides.

The North said the South Korean government and media had insulted its good intentions by saying it only let the project continue because of the money it generated.

"We will focus on the agenda and try to work on building confidence and cooperation starting with small issues and try our best to channel that to bigger confidence and cooperation," Suh told reporters in Seoul before the talks.

The two sides were due to hold more talks later on Saturday.

Earlier this year, North Korea threatened strikes with nuclear and other missiles against the South and the United States after the United Nations tightened sanctions against it for conducting its third nuclear test in February.   Continued...

Head of the South Korean working-level delegation Suh Ho (L) shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart Park Chol-su before talks at the Tongilgak on the North Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone, north of Seoul July 6, 2013. REUTERS/Korea Pool/Yonhap