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Two Koreas Agree to Reopen Joint Zone When Ready

Delegates from North and South Korea have agreed in principle to normalize operations at a stalled joint factory park, which was shuttered in April during a peak in military tensions between the two countries.

The working-level meeting of delegates convened Saturday in the truce city of Panmunjom in the heavily-guarded demilitarized zone dividing the two foes. Talks ran late into the night.

Seoul's Unification Ministry said Sunday that the North will allow businesspeople to travel to the Kaesong industrial park beginning Wednesday to inspect equipment and conduct maintenance to minimize damage during the rainy season. Delegates from the two sides will also meet at the park Wednesday to discuss ways to reopen the zone and how to guarantee the prevention of another shutdown.

Pyongyang also agreed to allow businesspeople from the South to retrieve raw materials and finished products from the zone.

Saturday's talks came after a protocol disagreement last month resulted in the cancellation of what would have been the first senior-level meeting in years.

The industrial park was an important source of revenue for North Korea and one of the last remaining examples of inter-Korean cooperation.

The North withdrew its 53,000 workers from Kaesong in April and blocked access by the South Korean companies who used it to produce industrial goods with low-cost North Korean labor. South Korea later pulled its managers from the facility.

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