Sat, May 24, 2003 - Page 5 News List

South, North Korea resume negotiations after verbal sparring

AP , SEOUL

South and North Korea resumed discussions yesterday on economic issues at talks that had been disrupted by a dispute over Pyongyang's suspected development of nuclear weapons.

The two Koreas opened the talks Tuesday in Pyongyang to discuss economic cooperation, but the talks stalled after the North threatened the South with an "unspeakable disaster."

North Korea was upset by a US-South Korean summit in Washington last week, during which US President George W. Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun agreed to consider "further steps" against Pyongyang if it escalates tension over its nuclear ambitions.

Setting aside economic issues, the Koreas began discussion Thursday on the North's remarks and the Bush-Roh summit.

Cho Myong-gyun, a spokesman for the South Korean delegation, said the two sides began negotiations on economic issues after some progress in how to resolve the "remark dispute."

"But this is not final," Cho said without elaborating, according to pool reports by South Korean journalists.

South Korea had strongly protested the North's remarks and demanded "an acceptable response," while the North demanded South Korea's explanation on "further steps."

Washington and its allies are trying muster international pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

The Pyongyang talks were set up to discuss inter-Korean projects, including cross-border railways and roads as well as an industrial complex that would be built near the border in North Korea.

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