South tells North: No talks until assets freed

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South tells North: No talks until assets freed

If North Korea wants to have talks on resuming tourism to Mount Kumgang, it must first reverse its decision to freeze South Korean assets at the mountain resort, said the Ministry of Unification yesterday.

“We insisted that North Korea retract their unreasonable action to seize the assets in the resort, which we pointed out repeatedly in the statement that was sent this morning,” said Lee Jong-joo, spokeswoman at the Unification Ministry. “The conditions are not conducive to holding talks, given the circumstances that the sanctions on the resort are still in place.”

Pyongyang requested on Nov. 11 the two Koreas hold working-level talks on Friday in Kaesong to negotiate the resumption of tourism at the resort, ahead of the scheduled Red Cross meetings to be held on Nov. 25.

North Korea temporarily lifted its sanctions on the mountain resort from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5 for the reunions of families separated during the Korean War, then refroze the assets soon after.

The spokeswoman also said the next round of talks regarding the resumption of Mount Kumgang tourism should be started where the last talks left off on Feb. 8 this year. The two parties failed to reach an agreement then, with South Korea reiterating that North Korea guarantee tourists’ safety and allow a probe of the fatal 2008 shooting of a South Korean tourist.

By Christine Kim []
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