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July 15, 2013

Korea Kaesong Talks Fail Again

by VOA News

Officials from the two Koreas failed to reach an agreement in their third round of discussions on how to restart a shuttered inter-Korean industrial park.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said that South Korean officials demanded assurances Monday that operations at the complex continue, even during future periods of heightened tension.

A ministry official said the North offered no solid response, but repeated Pyongyang's position that operations at the industrial zone should resume at the earliest possible date.

The talks were held at the North Korean border town of Kaesong, where the factory complex is located. The two sides will meet again, with a date to be determined later.

In their previous talks, the two sides also agreed on a desire to reopen the complex, but could not agree on how to proceed.

​​The Kaesong park has been closed since April, when North Korea pulled out its 53,000 workers as part of an angry response to international sanctions against its February nuclear test. South Korean businesses withdrew their manager and workers in early May

Many analysts expect slow progress on the talks, as both sides have given indications they are far apart on a number of issues.

For its part, North Korea has failed to take responsibility for the closure of Kaesong, instead blaming unspecified South Korean provocation.

Although work at the center has been suspended before during times of heightened tensions, it had never been shut down completely since it was established in 2004.

The complex, which relies on South Korean know-how and cheap North Korean labor, was a key source of hard currency for the North's troubled economy.