Seoul proposes talks with Pyongyang on joint zone



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Friday 5 July 2013

Last update 5 July 2013 2:01 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

SEOUL: South Korea yesterday proposed talks with North Korea about reopening a joint industrial zone which shut down amid high military tensions.
The proposal came a day after the North restored a cross-border hotline and announced it would let the South’s businessmen visit the Kaesong estate just north of the border to check on their closed factories.
The South’s Unification Ministry sent a message to the North suggesting a meeting at the border truce village of Panmunjom tomorrow.
In its counter-proposal, the North agreed in principle on a meeting but insisted it be held at Kaesong, the ministry said.
“Discussion is under way to narrow differences, through telephone lines in the truce village,” a ministry spokesman told AFP.
Plans for high-level talks last month on the future of the estate, which has been shut since April, collapsed due to a protocol dispute.
Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae called for caution, saying Seoul would not hurry to hold fruitless talks with Pyongyang.
“Our position is to work out a problem through dialogue but we will not accept unreasonable demands from North Korea,” he said.
The Kaesong estate, where 53,000 North Koreans worked in 123 Seoul-owned factories, is the last remaining symbol of cross-border reconciliation and a valuable source of hard currency for the impoverished North.
It was the most high-profile casualty of the months of elevated tensions that followed the North’s nuclear test in February, subsequent tightened UN sanctions and US-South Korean military exercises.
After repeatedly threatening Seoul and Washington with conventional and nuclear attack, Pyongyang in recent weeks appears to want to shift to dialogue.
Professor Kim Yong-Hyun of Seoul’s Dongguk University had said the North was likely to respond positively to Thursday’s talks proposal, as it tries to improve its people’s living standards and attract foreign investment to special economic zones elsewhere.
Pyongyang is also mindful of a US demand that it improve ties with Seoul before any talks with Washington, said Professor Koh Yu-Hwan of the same university.
After last month’s fence-mending meeting with Seoul failed to go ahead, Pyongyang proposed direct, high-level dialogue with Washington.
In an apparent bid to press it to talk, the North this week allowed a pro-Pyongyang paper to release a video and interview with an American sentenced to hard labour for alleged subversion.
Kenneth Bae called on the United States to secure his early release, saying he has been in poor health since he was sent to prison in May to start a 15-year sentence.

“North Korea is seeking to exploit people’s sympathetic feelings for Bae to compel the United States to have talks with it,” Koh told AFP.
“It wants to shift to dialogue from confrontation. However, unless the North takes concrete steps to meet its international obligations, it is hardly likely to nudge the United States toward the dialogue table.”
North Korea has vowed never to give up its nuclear weapons, but says it is open to direct talks with the United States.
But the United States and South Korea say the North must take actions first to prove its commitment to abandoning its nuclear programme.
The North’s first vice foreign minister Kim Kye-Gwan is currently on a visit to Moscow to discuss possible resumption of six-party nuclear talks stalled since December 2008.
Kim late last month discussed restarting the talks in Beijing, where he met China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Operations at Kaesong just north of the heavily fortified border came to a halt after the North banned entry by the South’s factory managers and other officials and pulled all its own workers out in April.
Its concessions on Wednesday came hours after dozens of South Korean firms threatened to withdraw altogether from the zone, complaining they had fallen victim to political bickering between the two rivals.
Representatives of the South Korean companies have repeatedly urged the two sides to open talks to revive the moribund industrial park.
Of them, 46 are manufacturers of electronics and machinery parts whose facilities are especially vulnerable to humidity in the current weather.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: In a fresh boost for relations between Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, the Kingdom has decided to sign a memorandum of understanding on Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) with Dhaka. The Kingdom endorsed a proposal in this regard at a meeting be...
The Indonesian mission is hopeful detained Indonesian pilgrims will be free “very soon.” The mission is trying to persuade Saudi authorities of their nationals’ innocence.Eleven Indonesian pilgrims, who arrived in the holy city of Makkah to perform U...
JEDDAH: Police at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh arrested a Saudi hacker after a government organization in Al-Leith in Makkah complained that he had hacked its website, according to an online newspaper.Col. Atti Al-Qurashi, spokesman fo...
JEDDAH: The special criminal court has sentenced a former military official to nine years in jail for joining Daesh and traveling to Syria to fight.A fine of SR5,000 was also slapped on him and he was barred from traveling abroad for nine years after...
JEDDAH: Saudi-Indian ties have reached a new high with the arrival of an Indian Air Force (IAF) flying contingent at the King Fahd Air Base in Taif.The mission, comprising more than 100 high-ranking IAF officers and airmen onboard Sukhoi MKI fighter...
RIYADH: A tripartite agreement among the National Handicraft Program, Prisons Department and the Technical and Vocational Training Corp. (TVTC) was recently signed in the presence of Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tou...
JEDDAH: British authorities have opened investigations into the plane crash that led to the death of three members of the Binladin family.Investigations depend on the black box which registers the entire plane’s data, including speed, position of mob...
JAZAN: In a tragic accident, a speeding fuel truck caused four deaths and injuries to many people when it collided head on with five cars on the northern entrance of Abu Areesh area of Jazan, according to a website.The truck deviated from its path an...
JEDDAH: Municipal and Rural Affairs Minister Abdul Lateef Al-Asheikh has directed all the municipal authorities to closely scrutinize the election candidates’ credentials to thwart violation of rules.This is to ensure that the candidates meet all the...
Mohammed Mokammel Hossain, labor consul, Bangladesh Consulate, Jeddah * Which particular aspect of Saudi Arabia you like the most? Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah.* Can you tell us your favorite and oft-repeated Arabic word? Insha’Allah. * W...
RIYADH: Expatriates feel Saudi Arabia is a safer place than their home countries despite the fact that the Kingdom is leading a war against the Yemeni rebels and other terror organizations and a couple of suicide attacks in the recent past. Mahmoud T...
RIYADH: The maximum medical policy or contract for visitors is SR100,000, which covers expenses on emergency treatment, maternity charges, traffic accident injuries, dialysis and medical treatment in or outside the Kingdom. Making the above announce...
JEDDAH: The city and its surrounding areas sweltered on Monday, with the maximum temperature rising to 44 degree Celsius and relative humidity being recorded at 85 percent. The weather department has forecast a similar situation in Jeddah on Tuesday....
JEDDAH: A National Academy for Energy in Dammam and a private technical technical college, both exclusively for women, will be opened in the Easter Province.The General Organization of Technical and Vocational Training is in the process of implementi...
AL-AHSA: Masjid Joatha or Joatha Mosque is a center of attraction in Al-Ahsa with many visitors and tourists thronging the place of worship, which was believed to have been built in the seventh year of Hijri (629 AD).The mosque has been restored as p...

Stay Connected

Facebook