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North Korea Silent on Industrial Zone Talks

A deadline has passed for North Korea to answer a proposal from South Korea to hold talks about a joint industrial zone that has been shut down.

Seoul gave Pyongyang 24 hours Thursday to agree to formal negotiations to restart operations at the Kaesong complex, warning of a tough response if Pyongyang did not agree to the offer.

The proposal was laid out by South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-suk. It is expected that the South will now order its remaining citizens out of the Kaesong zone in the North.

Operations at the Kaesong industrial complex, just north of the border, have been suspended since North Korea angrily pulled its workers and blocked South Korean access to the center earlier this month.

About 180 South Koreans remain there in hopes that production can resume, but they are thought to be quickly running out of food and supplies.

Kaesong is the last remaining symbol of cooperation between the two foes, and is seen as a bellwether of Korean relations. Although work at the center has been suspended during times of heightened tensions, it has never been shut down completely since it was established in 2004.

Though Pyongyang has refrained from making daily threats of violence against the South in recent days, tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea is angry over U.N. Security Council sanctions passed in response to Pyongyang's February nuclear test, as well as annual joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States.