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Two Koreas agree to open Kaesong zone next week

12 september 2013, 11:03
0
©AFP
©AFP
North and South Korea agreed Wednesday to reopen their Kaesong joint industrial park next week, five months after it was shut during soaring military tensions, AFP reports.

Following a marathon negotiation session that went through the night, the two sides set a date of September 16 for restarting the shuttered complex, the South's Unification Ministry said.

South Korean firms in Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles) over the border in North Korea, will be allowed to resume operations after a trial run on Monday, the ministry said.

The agreement came at a second round of talks between a newly created Kaesong joint committee that began Tuesday morning and stretched through the night.

Established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, Kaesong had come through a number of crises on the Korean peninsula unscathed.

But in April, as tensions escalated following the North's third nuclear test, Pyongyang effectively shut down operations by withdrawing the 53,000 North Korean workers employed at the 123 South Korean plants.

The two Koreas agreed last month to work together to resume operations at the zone, which is an important source of hard currency for the cash-strapped regime in Pyongyang.

As part of the deal, the North accepted the South's demand that Kaesong be opened to foreign investors -- a move seen by Seoul as a guarantee against the North shutting the complex down again in the future.

Wednesday's agreement included plans to host a road show for foreign investors at Kaesong in October.

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