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N. Korea agrees to talks on reopening Kaesong zone

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-06-06

North Korea said Thursday it would agree to hold talks with Seoul on reopening the joint industrial zone of Kaesong. The complex was shut down after the North withdrew its workers in April amid soaring military tensions on the peninsula.

North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on reopening a jointly run factory complex in the North and possibly other issues, a hopeful sign for relations that have deteriorated greatly in recent months.

North Korea said Thursday it is open to holding talks with South Korea on reopening the Kaesong complex, which was shuttered in April. Pyongyang’s statement was carried by state media and was its first public response to Seoul’s proposal in April to discuss the factory complex.

FRANCE 24's correspondent in Seoul, Andrew Salmon, said that there was no obvious explanation for North Korea’s sudden agreement to talks, but that it might just be part of the secretive regime’s pattern of provocation followed by a “cooling down” that leads to negotiations.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said in a text message that it “positively accepts” the North Korean announcement and added that it will announce the date and agenda of talks later.

While critical as the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, the Kaesong industrial complex is not the only issue that will be discussed, Salmon said.

“They are talking about reopening a joint tourism resort inside North Korea that was closed in 2008, [and] they are also talking about having reunions for families divided by the 1953 war,” he said.

Relations between the Koreas hit a new low point following a December satellite launch and a controversial February nuclear test by North Korea.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2013-06-06

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