North and South Korea agree to working-level talks on Kaesong industrial zone


The inter-Korean industrial complex of Kaesong is seen from a South Korean observation tower in Paju near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas on December 22, 2011.



Pyongyang on Thursday accepted South Korea's proposal to hold working-level talks this weekend on the closed Kaesong industrial complex, the South Korean Unification Ministry said.

Both sides will provide three-member delegations for negotiations scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. (local time) on the North's side of the neutral border in Panmunjom village.

Work in the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex stopped in April amid heightened political and military tensions after North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers and Seoul subsequently withdrew plant managers.

South Korean Yonnap news reports the breakthrough came after North Korea stopped insisting that the South's businessmen visit their Kaesong plants at the same time or before the two government's could talk.

The talks are "in consideration of the damages to the companies operating in Kaesong after three months of suspension and the beginning of monsoon season," Kim Hyung-suk, South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman, said in a briefing. "The Kaesong issue can only be resolved through dialogue by government authorities."

“There is room for talks to evolve into discussing issues beyond Kaesong if North Korea approaches these efforts for dialogue with sincerity,” Kim added.