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개성공단 재가동 원칙적 합의…10일 방북해 설비점검

 

남북 당국간실무회담 우리 측 수석대표인 서호 통일부 남북협력지구지원단장(왼쪽)과 북측 수석대표인 박철수 중앙특구개발지도총국 부총국장이 7일 오전 판문점 북측지역 통일각에서 16시간에 걸친 마라톤 협상 끝에 열린 개성공단 실무회담 종료회의에서 개성공단 정상화 조치 등의 내용을 담은 합의문을 교환하고 있다. (연합뉴스)
남북 당국간실무회담 우리 측 수석대표인 서호 통일부 남북협력지구지원단장(왼쪽)과 북측 수석대표인 박철수 중앙특구개발지도총국 부총국장이 7일 오전 판문점 북측지역 통일각에서 16시간에 걸친 마라톤 협상 끝에 열린 개성공단 실무회담 종료회의에서 개성공단 정상화 조치 등의 내용을 담은 합의문을 교환하고 있다. (연합뉴스)

남북한은 7일 개성공단 사태와  관련, 준비가 되는데에 따라 기업들을 재가동하기로 원칙적인 합의를 했다.

또 장마철 피해를 줄이기 위해 입주기업 관계자 등이 오는 10일부터 개성공단을 방문, 설비 점검과 정비를 진행한다는데도 합의했다.

양측은 남측 기업이 완제품·원부자재를 반출할 수 있도록 하고, 절차를 밟아 설비도 반출할 수 있도록 했다. 이를 위해 북측은 개성공단을 방문하는 남측 인원들의 안전한 복귀 및 신변 안전과 차량의 통행·통신을 보장키로 했다.

우리 측이 강하게 요구한 개성공단 가동중단 사태의 재발방지 문제 등 개성공단 정상화를 위한 후속회담을 10일 개성공단에서 개최키로 했다.

남북 양측은 이날 오전 4시 5분께 판문점 북측지역 통일각에서 당국간 실무회담 종료회의를 갖고 이 같은 내용의 4개항으로 구성된 합의문에 서명했다.

우리측 수석대표인 서호 통일부 남북협력지구지원단장은 회담 종료 뒤 판문점 우리측 '자유의 집'에서 브리핑을 갖고 "남북은 개성공단 기업들이 겪고 있는  어려움을 해소하고 개성공단을 발전적으로 정상화해 나간다는 데 인식을 공유하면서  이렇게 합의했다"고 설명했다.

이에 따라 지난 4월 3일 북한의 일방적 조치로 시작된 개성공단 사태가 정상화 95일만에 정상화 수순으로 들어갈 것으로 보인다.

남북은 6일 낮부터 16시간에 걸쳐 2번의 전체회의와 10번의 수석대표 접촉 등 마라톤협상을 갖고 개성공단 정상화 문제와 재발방지 대책, 시급한 현안 해결 방안 등을 논의했다.

우리 정부는 북측에 개성공단 기업의 피해에 대한 책임 있는 입장 표명과  재발 방지에 대한 보장을 요구하면서 완제품과 원부자재의 조속한 반출문제를 우선  협의 하자고 제의했다.

북측은 기업들의 설비점검 문제를 최우선으로 협의하자고 요구하면서 생산된 제품은 반출하되 원부자재는 불필요하게 반출하는 것을 재고해야 한다는 입장을  피력했다.

서 단장은 "오늘 회담은 개성공단 가동이 중단된지 석달이 지나고 장마철까지 도래한 상황에서 완제품 반출, 원부자재 회수 등 입주기업의 어려움을 회수하는 데 역점을 두고 협상을 추진했다"고 설명했다.

서 단장은 "특히 개성공단 가동 중단으로 인해 신변안전에 대한 우려가 있는 상황에서 설비 점검과 물자 반출 등을 위한 우리 측 인원들의 안전한 복귀, 신변안전 보장을 확보한 점은 의미가 있다"고 평가했다.

그는 "이번 합의가 개성공단의 발전적 정상화의 첫 걸음이 되기를 기대하면서 나아가 남북간 신뢰를 쌓아나가는 계기가 되기를 기대한다"고 말했다. (연합뉴스)

<관련 영문 기사>



Koreas agree in principle to normalize suspended inter-Korean industrial park



South and North Korea agreed in principle to normalize operations at the inter-Korean industrial complex that has been idle for nearly three months, helping to keep alive the only viable economic link between the two countries, the government said Sunday.

Seoul's Ministry of Unification said after 16 hours of negotiation, the two sides were able to find middle ground on various outstanding issues.

The talks followed months of high tensions jacked up by the North's third atomic weapons test in February and its threats of launching nuclear attacks against South Korea and Washington. The industrial complex subsequently came to a halt in early April, becoming a prominent casualty of the spike in tension on the Korean Peninsula.

It said under the agreement signed at 4:05 a.m., inspections of manufacturing facilities will be carried out at the Kaesong Industrial Complex starting on Wednesday. South Korean businessmen with factories in the North Korean border town will carry out the

inspections with the help of engineers.

The ministry said Pyongyang agreed to discuss ways to implement safeguards to prevent another shutdown of the industrial park in the future. This meeting is scheduled to take place in Kaesong on the same day the facility inspections kickoff.

Seoul said from the outset, that normalization must be contingent on the North pledging not to unilaterally disrupt operations at the complex again, and the introduction of international standards of doing business.

The two sides, moreover, concurred on allowing South Korean businessmen to collect finished goods and raw materials needed to make products from the border town, with the North agreeing to extend safe passage over the demilitarized zone for South Korean personnel.

The agreement comes after marathon talks conducted at Tongilgak, in the North Korean-controlled part of the joint security area. Earlier in the talks, negotiations made little headway due to very different priorities expressed by the two countries. Such developments caused some to worry that negotiations will fall through.

South Korea made clear Pyongyang must take responsibility for the disruption in operations and guarantee such problems will not be repeated. It also wanted the right to permit the retrieval of finished goods from Kaesong that can alleviate the plight of local companies, which have been hit hard by the work stoppage.

North Korea, on the other hand, wanted operations to resume as soon as possible at the complex that was created as a result of the historic 2000 summit meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas.

Related to the talks itself, Suh Ho, director of the unification ministry's exchange and cooperation bureau, told reporters the North showed considerable aggressiveness in trying to iron out differences.

"I received the impression that they were committed to tackling the issue," the chief delegate to the working-level talks said. He said that while the South Korean delegates brought up the issue of fingering who was to blame for the work stoppage, his counterparts did not share the same view.

Suh added that the checkup of facilities and retrieval of finished goods and other manufacturing materials needed to be seen as one package, with the normalization of Kaesong being an entirely different issue.

"While the agreement reached is vague and broad on the safeguard issue, Seoul is determined to touch on this issue in the next meeting set for Kaesong," he said, pointing out that in some areas negotiators left the agenda open for future talks, because they didn't have time at the Panmunjom meeting. The official emphasized that "constructive development" of the complex is needed to ensure Kaesong long-term health.

The official, moreover, said that the South will comment on the need to ensure better protection for personnel, property and movement to and from Kaesong at the upcoming meeting.

South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday said it was a "significant development" that the Koreas finally had talks over Kaesong.

"There has been a preliminary agreement between the Koreas for the positive normalization (of the industrial park)," a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters. "(The suspension of the Kaesong

complex) should never have happened in the first place, but the two sides have made some progress in their efforts to resolve the issue."

The South's two major political parties also welcomed the inter-Korean agreement. The ruling Saenuri Party lauded the two Koreas' determination to resolve the Kaesong problem and urged both sides to honor the terms of their agreement.

The main opposition Democratic Party said the two Koreas have taken an important first step toward the normalization of the Kaesong complex and of the inter-Korean ties, and called for further talks and exchange between the countries.

The start of the talks, meanwhile, were delayed for nearly two hours as telephone lines to the South needed repairs.

The meeting came after North Korea sent invitations to South Korean businessmen with factories in Kaesong, assuring them of safe passage to the border city.

The South countered this move by calling for government-to-government negotiations, while putting off allowing visits by businessmen until after officials hold talks.

North Korean watchers said that the understanding reached has kept alive hope for the complex. where operations came to a screeching halt on April 9. Pyongyang citing provocations by the South pulled out its 53,000 workers from the 123 South Korean plants at the complex. South Korea responded by subsequently withdrew its own manpower. 

"There has been mounting concerns that time was running out with the onset of monsoon rains that could damage production facilities and raw materials left behind at the plant," a researcher for a state-run think tank said. He pointed out that if proper maintenance is not carried out on some machinery, such assets may have to be replaced, which could incur serious losses from Kaesong companies.

Companies claimed losses amounting to 1.05 trillion won

(US$919.4 million), although the government said that actually losses hovered at around 706.7 billion won. (Yonhap News)

 

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