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Koreas Hold Talks on Stalled Kaesong Factory

North and South Korea are holding fresh talks Wednesday aimed at re-opening a jointly run manufacturing complex.

This is the seventh round of negotiations over the Kaesong industrial zone, which lies in the North near the inter-Korean border.

Pyongyang pulled its workers from the facility in April amid heightened military tensions with Seoul. The South wants assurances that will not happen again.

Before leaving for Kaesong, South Korea's chief delegate Kim Ki-woong stressed how important it is for the talks to succeed.

"I feel a heavy responsibility. I will do my best to meet the expectations of the South Korean people."

The factories in Kaesong are owned by South Korean companies, and staffed by North Koreans. South Korean business owners and workers gathered near the border Wednesday holding signs and calling for the quick normalization of Kaesong.

The negotiations come just days before United States and South Korea begin an annual military drill that could raise tensions on the peninsula.

North Korea last week agreed to a seventh round of talks. The offer came just hours after Seoul said it would start paying compensation to Kaesong's South Korean manufacturers. The move was seen by many as a sign of the government's readiness to abandon the project.

The industrial park, which manufactured goods with cheap North Korean labor, provided a key source of foreign income to the leadership of the impoverished North.

North Korea withdrew its 53,000 workers from Kaesong in anger over joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and international sanctions against its February nuclear test. South Korean businesses pulled out their managers and workers in early May.

Kaesong was the last remaining sign of cooperation between the two longtime foes. This has been the first total shutdown of the complex since it opened in 2004.