Two Koreas resume talks on Kaesong

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iol pic wld n-skoreas-Kaesong AFP Members of South Korea's Unification Ministry (left) shake hands with their North Korean counterparts during talks at the joint Kaesong industrial park. Picture: South Korean Unification Ministry

Seoul - North and South Korea resumed talks on Thursday on managing their Kaesong joint industrial zone, after a six-month hiatus caused by rising tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul.

The two Koreas set up a joint committee to run Kaesong after the zone shut down completely in April for five months as military tensions on the Korean peninsula surged to dangerous levels.

After it re-opened, both sides agreed that the new committee should meet at least once every quarter, irrespective of the current state of inter-Korean tensions.

Since its last meeting on December 19, however, the joint committee has sat idle as tensions rose again with North Korea's angry protests over the South's annual military exercises with the United States.

South Korea's chief delegate, Lee Kang-woo, welcomed the resumption of discussions as he left Seoul for Kaesong on Thursday.

“As the meeting comes after a long time, it serves as an opportunity to inspect the tasks of developing and normalising the complex,” Lee said.

Seoul is particularly keen to discuss the creation of a proper Internet connection and freeing up movement in and out of Kaesong, which lies 10km over the border in North Korea.

Kaesong opened in 2004 as a rare symbol of cross-border cooperation.

It employs more than 50 000 North Koreans in around 120 South Korean light industrial firms. - Sapa-AFP

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