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S. Korea puts Kaesong issue before Mt. Kumgang tour


17:45, July 11, 2013

SEOUL, July 11 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's chief policymaker in charge of inter-Korean relations said Thursday that agreement over the issue of Kaesong industrial complex would lead "naturally" to the resumption of Mount Kumgang tour, putting the Kaesong issue before Mount Kumgang tour.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) proposed separate working-level talks with South Korea on Wednesday to discuss the resumption of Mount Kumgang tour and reunion of families separated during the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the Ministry of Unification.

Touching on the proposal, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said earlier in the day at a forum that Seoul replied to Pyongyang that "it would be better to make headway in this problem (the Kaesong issue), and then it can naturally find a clue to solve the Mount Kumgang tour."

The Unification Ministry said in Wednesday's statement that Seoul agreed to hold talks on the family reunion in the truce village of Panmunjom, but rejected dialogue overtures on the resumption of Mount Kumgang tour.

Pyongyang asked Seoul to hold talks on Mount Kumgang tour, which was suspended for around 5 years, on July 17 and separate dialogue on the family reunion, which has been halted since November 2010, on July 19.

Minister Ryoo stressed the importance of building trust between Seoul and Pyongyang, saying that "it is be hard to say there is any elementary level of trust in the current inter-Korean relations."

Both sides agreed to hold the third round of working-level talks on July 15 at the Kaesong industrial park on how to prevent recurrence of unilateral shutdown of the complex where 123 South Korean companies run factories.

The DPRK allowed South Korean businessmen to visit Kaesong for two days through Thursday to inspect facilities vulnerable to the humidity during the rainy season.

The joint industrial zone was suspended in April 9 when Pyongyang banned around 53,000 of its workers from reporting to work amid escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula. Seoul also withdrew its personnel in response.

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