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S. Korea to spurn any N.K. demands on Kaesong: minister
SEOUL, April 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will not accept any unjust North Korean preconditions for the normalization of a suspended joint industrial complex as such a move does little to promote inter-Korean cooperation, Seoul's unification minister said Tuesday.

   "It is pointless to normalize operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex if it entails accepting unreasonable claims and preconditions," Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae told a gathering of the National Unification Advisory Council.

   The North has repeatedly rejected calls for government-level dialogue to rescind its entry ban on all South Korean personnel and decision to pull out its 53,000 laborers, saying it will only reconsider its position if Seoul formally apologizes for South Korean media reports that insulted the country's dignity and leadership.

   The communist country also raised issue with remarks made by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, who said the military has a contingency plan in case South Korean workers are held hostage in the border city located just north of the demilitarized zone. Pyongyang prevented its workers from going to work on April 8, six days after it barred incoming traffic from South Korea.

  

The policymaker, in charge of relations with North Korea, said if the country caved in to these kinds of demands, Kaesong would no longer help lay a firm foundation for progressive cross-border relations and economic cooperation.

   "We have no plans to take such a step," he emphasized, making clear that South Korea's proposal on April 11 to hold talks remains valid.

   The minister then said the decision to pull out South Korean workers from Kaesong reflects the very clear view held by the government.

   "We made clear that the North's demands were unacceptable and called for them to reverse their actions, but since they took no such steps, we ordered our people to return home," he said.

   The government decided to pull all its people from the industrial complex on Friday. At present, there are just seven people remaining to iron out details centered on unpaid wages, taxes and communication service charges. Normally around 800 South Koreans resided at Kaesong.

   Ryoo claimed that the Seoul's actions are not an emotional response, and were triggered because of the bad behavior of the North.

   "Operations at Kaesong will return to normal as soon as the North realizes its actions were wrong and backtracks on the measures taken so far," he said.

   The policymaker, meanwhile, said the North's relentless verbal attacks against the new government is nothing out of the ordinary.

   "We've heard this for 60 years, and if the North thinks the government will blink over such diatribes, they do not know us very well," he said. The minister said it is time for Pyongyang to give up such outdated tactics and push for change.

   yonngong@yna.co.kr
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