Published : 2013-09-10 10:57
Updated : 2013-09-10 10:57
South and North Korea resumed talks on Tuesday hoping to set a timetable for normalizing their joint factory park in the communist country and to establish guidelines to prevent interruptions to its operations.
In their second round of committee meeting that began at 10 a.m., the two sides will discuss details on negotiations carried out last week during their sub-committee meetings.
Last week's negotiations are part of a landmark agreement reached on Aug. 14 to normalize operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North Korean border city of the same name. It outlined the creation of a joint committee and four sub-committees, allowing Seoul and Pyongyang an equal say in the running of the complex that was previously run by a North Korean governing body.
The Kaesong factory park has been shuttered for five months following its shutdown amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
The two sides agreed in principle to reopen the complex after all preparatory measures are completed including administrative and regulatory changes that will prevent the park's closure due to non-economic reasons.
"Every effort will be made to ensure the creation of an environment that is conducive to business activities," Kim Ki-woong, South Korea's co-chairperson at the joint committee and the chief negotiator to the Kaesong talks, said before crossing the border into North Korea. He added that the restoration of the military hotline on the west coast last Friday is a sign of steady progress toward full normalization.
South Korea had said the hotline severed by the North in late March must be reconnected to allow South Korean repair crew to stay in Kaesong for longer periods of time while they ready infrastructure at the factory zone for normalization of operations.
Seoul's Ministry of Unification, which is in charge of the negotiations, said more detailed talks related to such areas as safety, communication, customs, travel and dispute arbitration will be discussed with the goal of reaching an understanding.
There have been speculation that if talks make headway, partial reopening of the Kaesong complex could take place before the three-day Chuseok holiday that falls next week. On the other hand, some official sources have hinted that the South will not rush to open the complex before it can make certain the North's intent to follow through on its pledges made last month not to unilaterally disrupt operations down the road.
Seoul has always insisted that before any resumption of operations take place, safeguards need to be in place to guarantee that the complex will not be shuttered for political or military reasons, while Pyongyang has advocated for an immediate reopening.
Before the suspension of operations in early April, the Kaesong park was home to 123 South Korean factories and around 53,000 North Korean laborers. Pyongyang pulled out its workers that month, citing heightened tensions from the U.S.-involved South Korean military drills. (Yonhap news)