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S.Korea, DPRK agree to hold 3rd working-level talks amid differences


20:51, July 10, 2013

SEOUL, July 10 (Xinhua) -- South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agreed Wednesday to hold the third round of working-level talks next Monday at the joint industrial park in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong amid differences over how to normalize the complex in a productive way.

Seoul and Pyongyang failed to reach any agreement during the follow-up working-level talks held Wednesday at the Kaesong industrial zone, according to local broadcasters, including YTN and News Y.

Three-member delegations from both sides held three rounds of top-delegate talks, which ended at 5:44 p.m. local time, after having a plenary session for 25 minutes in the morning at the joint industrial park. "Our side clearly explained our stance once again that the Kaesong industrial zone should be developed into the one of an international level, and stressed several times over the suspension of factory operations caused by (the DPRK's) unilateral action," Suh Ho, Seoul's top delegate and director- general of the inter-Korean district support directorate at the Ministry of Unification, said at a televised briefing at Kaesong after ending the dialogue.

Seoul delegation called on Pyongyang to express its responsible position over its suspension of factory operation, urging the DPRK to provide a clear assurance to prevent recurrence of such a scenario. "The South and the North (DPRK) sufficiently explained each other's stance over the proposed issues at this talks,"said Suh."Both sides closed the talks with a promise to meet again after deeply reviewing each other's stance."

The failed agreement was widely expected at an early stage of the talks as both sides disclosed different views over the productive normalization of the joint industrial zone.

Seoul's top negotiator Suh said at his keynote speech that Pyongyang should make clear its position on damages done to South Korean companies caused by its unilateral shutdown of the complex, urging the DPRK to provide a clear assurance over recurrence prevention.

In response to it, Park Chol-su, Pyongyang's top delegate and vice director of the General Bureau of the Central Special Zone Development Guidance, said that the joint industrial zone should be reopened rapidly after finishing the maintenance work.

Seoul has demanded the industrial zone comply with international norms. South Korean President Park Geun-hye stressed Monday over the importance of the Kaesong complex "conforming to common sense and international standards." "For the stable growth of the Kaesong industrial zone, it should be developed into the internationalized one by allowing foreign companies to invest and have factories there,"Suh said during the dialogue.

Regarding this, Pyongyang's chief delegate Park urged Seoul to stop all activities that would prevent the normalization of the Kaesong park. The DPRK has reportedly held firm that the complex suspension stemmed mainly from the joint military exercises between Seoul and Washington and the so-called insult on its" supreme dignity"by South Korean media.

The follow-up talks came three days after Seoul and Pyongyang agreed in principle to normalize operation of the joint industrial park at Kaesong, just north of the heavily armed border.

The DPRK also allowed South Korean businessmen to visit Kaesong to inspect facilities vulnerable to the humidity during the rainy season.

Fifty-nine managers from 59 South Korean companies were allowed to visit the factory park Wednesday for the maintenance work. Seventy-six more company managers planned to visit the complex Thursday to check their facilities.

The industrial zone, where 123 South Korean companies run factories, was suspended in April 9 when Pyongyang banned around 53,000 of its workers from reporting to work amid high tension on the Korean Peninsula. Seoul also withdrew its personnel after the DPRK rejected talks.

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