Seoul proposes a parley on Kaesong

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Seoul proposes a parley on Kaesong

South Korea proposed to North Korea yesterday that working-level military talks be held later this month to discuss issues of communication, travel and customs clearance at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Won Tae-jae, spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Seoul, said the South has requested a meeting be held at the House of Peace, south of the truce village of Panmunjom, on the morning of Feb. 23.

“Since the North first proposed the military discussions, we expect that the reclusive country will accept our proposal,” Won said.

Previously, the North had asked to open the talks on Jan. 26, but Seoul wanted to wait until after working-level discussions on the complex took place on Feb. 1.

If both Koreas confirm the schedule for the military talks, the South Korean delegation will be led by Army Colonel Moon Sang-kyun, head of the North Korean Policy Division at the defense ministry.

Officials from the Unification Ministry who took part in the talks related to the Kaesong complex are also slated to be included in the delegation.

Working-level discussions on Kaesong ended without a concrete resolution.

The South pressed for facilitation of travel, customs clearance and communications, while the North wanted to discuss raising the minimum wage for its workers at the complex.

The South delegation balked at the suggestion, asserting that the wage issue could be discussed only after border issues were resolved and productivity at the complex improves.

The complex is a joint business park in the North where many firms from the South have operations.

North Korea raised military tensions between the two countries by firing a barrage of artillery shells into the waters of the Yellow Sea where it declared two “no-sail” zones north of the Northern Limit Line

The line is the de facto maritime border.

The shelling took place over three days beginning Jan. 27.

By Lee Min-yong []

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