Inter-Korean working-level contact turns up nothing

09:03, March 03, 2010      

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The working-level contact between South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) ended late Tuesday with no breakthrough on easing border restrictions and improving logistics at the joint industrial park in Kaesong, a border town of the DPRK, according to Seoul's Ministry of Unification.

The two sides have reached a consensus on general direction of solving three issues -- passage, communications and customs clearance, but still need further consultations on concrete steps, Lee Kang-woo, head of the South Korean delegation, told media after returning to the South side of the inter-Korean border.

According to a press release by the Ministry of Unification, the two sides had sincere discussions on the three major issues during the contact, and agreed to continue their individual working-level contacts in the future for further consultations on specific issues. It also said the two sides will decide concrete date for a next contact through later communications.

The Seoul delegation proposed, during the talks, using the Radio-Frequency Identification system in the DPRK to help speed up cross-border passage and allowing a day pass for people entering the industrial park. The use of cell phones and having access to the Internet inside the joint park were also put forward during the contact, the press release said.

The North side agreed to discuss the three major issues by means of individual working-level contacts, but demanded that the South provide equipment promised by Seoul in an earlier agreement to help improve cross-border passage, communications and customs clearance, it said.

Pyongyang also required Seoul to fulfill the Joint Declarations signed during the two inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007 respectively, and voiced its dissatisfaction over some "hostile and confrontational moves" by Seoul such as the tensions in waters off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, floating anti-DPRK leaflets by South Korean activists and South Korea-U.S. joint Key Resolve and Foal Eagle drills, the press release added.

During the talks, Seoul also inquired about the identities and whereabouts of four South Koreans detained by the DPRK. The DPRK said it would inform the South when the investigation is over, Lee Kang-woo said.

South Korea and the DPRK held a working-level meeting on development issues of the joint industrial complex in Kaesong on Feb. 1, but failed to achieve substantial results due to huge differences between the two sides on issues related to passage, communications and customs clearance and wages of workers there. Another working-level meeting on resuming cross-border tours on Feb. 8 also ended without any results.

The Kaesong industrial complex, which has been widely viewed as one of the key symbols of economic cooperation between the two countries, is currently base to 116 South Korean companies, employing about 42,000 DPRK workers.

Source: Xinhua
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