ROK to discuss Kaesong normalization with DPRK

Updated: 2013-07-05 14:57


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SEOUL - The Republic of Korea's unification ministry said Friday that it will discuss how to constructively normalize the Kaesong industrial complex with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea at the working-level talks scheduled for Saturday.

"Issues on constructive normalization (of the Kaesong complex) will be discussed at tomorrow's meeting with the North (DPRK)" Kim Hyung-seok, spokesman of the Ministry of Unification, told reporters at a briefing.

Kim reiterated that the ROK's government has held firm on stance that the inter-Korean industrial zone at the DPRK's border town of Kaesong should be developed normally as a complex complying with common sense and international standards.

His comments came a day after Seoul and Pyongyang agreed to hold a working-level talks at the truce village of Panmunjeom from 10 am Saturday. The DPRK accepted the ROK's dialogue offer following some wrangling over venues.

The Unification Ministry said Thursday that both sides can discuss issues such as how to normalize the Kaesong complex, how to bring back finished goods and materials and how to maintain facilities and equipment.

The Kaesong industrial park, where factories of 123 ROK's companies were stationed, has been suspended for nearly three months after Pyongyang banned about 53,000 of its workers from reporting to work. Seoul also withdrew its personnel after the DPRK rejected working-level talks.

The two sides sought to hold their first high-level official talks in six years in June, but the scheduled dialogue was cancelled due to dispute over the ranks of chief delegates.

Seoul reportedly planned to send Suh Ho, head of the Unification Ministry's exchange and cooperation bureau, as chief delegate, while Pyongyang will send Park Chol-su, vice-director of the General Bureau of the Special Zone Development Guidance as chief negotiator.

Touching on the ROK's entrepreneurs' visit to Kaesong, spokesman Kim said that Seoul and Pyongyang will discuss the issue during the Saturday's talks.

Some companies running factories at Kaesong asked the ROK's government Wednesday to help them relocate facilities, saying that the prolonged standoff between Seoul and Pyongyang would damage their high-priced equipment vulnerable to humidity during the rainy season.

The ROK held that inter-Korean issues can be addressed through dialogue between authorities, but the DPRK preferred contacts with companies and private organizations.