No agreement after first Kaesong talks

Updated: 2013-07-11 08:09

By Ed Jones in Paju, Republic of Korea (China Daily)

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No agreement after first Kaesong talks

The Republic of Korea's working-level chief delegate Suh Ho (L) shakes hands with his counterpart, Pak Chul-su from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, during discussions on Wednesday to reopen the jointly run Kaesong  industrial zone in the DPRK on July 10, 2013.[Agenices]

ROK, DPRK to meet again next week on reopening joint complex

The Republic of Korea said talks with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on reopening a jointly run industrial complex ended without agreement on Wednesday, but the two sides will meet again next week.

The ROK's chief delegate Suh Ho said talks on restarting the Kaesong industrial complex's mothballed factories would continue on July 15, after about four hours of meetings that started on Wednesday morning.

"We both agreed that the complex should be maintained and further developed," Suh told reporters at the site just inside the DPRK.

"The DPRK argued that it should be resumed as soon as machinery checkups are finished, while we pointed out that the same situation could be repeated even after the reopening if there is no firm guarantee on preventing a recurrence (of the shutdown).

"So it was decided that this issue would be discussed at the next meeting," he added.

The talks follow months of cross-border friction after the DPRK's February nuclear test attracted tougher UN sanctions.

The Kaesong industrial complex was shut down three months ago as relations between the neighbors hit crisis point.

But at a rare weekend meeting, the ROK and DPRK agreed in principle to reopen the Kaesong industrial complex, the last remaining symbol of cross-border reconciliation.

The Kaesong industrial complex, which was built in 2004, sits about 10 kilometers inside the DPRK. The ROK-funded site, built as part of a diplomatic bid to improve cross-border relations, was an important source of hard currency for the DPRK.

In April, the DPRK withdrew its 53,000 workers from the 123 Seoul-owned factories at the complex, citing military tensions and what it called the ROK's hostility.

Seoul withdrew managers from most of the operations in early May.

The ROK now wants firm safeguards from the DPRK against shutting the Kaesong industrial complex down unilaterally, to keep the estate insulated from changes in relations.

This would be a bitter pill for the DPRK to swallow as it means it would accept responsibility for the April closure.

The ROK also wants compensation for losses stemming from the suspension, a demand the DPRK is unlikely to accept.

At the end of grueling 15-hour talks on Sunday, the two sides said in a joint statement they had agreed to let ROK firms restart their plants at the complex when conditions are ripe.

The statement was seen as a crucial step in winding down the months of high tension.

Agence France-Presse