South Korea yesterday proposed “final” talks with the North over the fate of a shuttered joint industrial zone, suggesting it may permanently close the estate if the negotiations fail.
The latest offer came after six recent rounds of talks aimed at reviving the Seoul-invested Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea — suspended since April — produced little signs of progress.
“We are offering the final talks to discuss the issue [of Kaesong],” South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told reporters, adding that Seoul will send a formal proposal across the border today.
The Kaesong complex, built in 2004, became the most high-profile casualty of two months of elevated tensions following a nuclear test by the North in February.
Ryoo reiterated that the South wants the North to accept responsibility for what Seoul insists was the unilateral closure of Kaesong by Pyongyang, and a written guarantee that it will never happen again.
“We want a clear answer from the North on preventing a recurrence,” he said. “Otherwise, we will be left with no choice but to make a grave decision to prevent even bigger damages on our companies in the future.”
However, Ryoo also said Seoul would today approve five shipments of humanitarian aid for the North worth 1.4 billion won (US$1.25 million).