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(LEAD) N. Korea proposes talks on Kaesong park on Aug. 14

2013/08/07 17:53

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, comments from S. Korean gov't from para 3)

SEOUL, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea proposed Wednesday that the two Koreas hold another round of talks on Aug. 14 aimed at normalizing a joint industrial complex that has been shuttered since early April.

The offer, made in the form of a special statement by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK), comes more than a week after Seoul demanded "final talks" to resolve all outstanding issues surrounding operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex. So far, six rounds of inter-Korean negotiations have taken place without progress.

The latest proposal, carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) monitored in Seoul, said the two Koreas should work together to prevent a recurrence of the suspension of operations at Kaesong like the one that occurred in early April. Pyongyang also offered safe passage to all South Koreans entering the complex and said it will protect the property of South Korean businesses there.

It added that the temporary ban on operations announced by the North on April 8 will be lifted and that normal entry into the complex will be permitted.

The CPRK said that the South should accept the talks offer without any preconditions so all differences can be dealt with through dialogue.

Related to the talks proposal, South Korea's Ministry of Unification said it views Pyongyang's latest move as the communist country finally responding to Seoul's continuous calls for dialogue.

Since South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae made a final offer of talks on July 28, Seoul has said that it was running out of patience and demanded the North accept the preconditions of safeguards to prevent another unilateral work stoppage in Kaesong.

A ministry official, who declined to be identified, said that the government will make known its proposal after reviewing the contents of the statement in detail.

"Details have to be discussed before a response can be made," the source said.

He added that before the North released the information through its official news wire, it had contacted Seoul through the communication line that runs through the neutral truce village of Panmunjom.

South Korea in the past has said the North must first give solid assurances if progress is to be made at talks to normalize the Kaesong complex.

Insiders said while the latest CPRK statement did not blame the South for the current impasse, which had been the North's stance, the North's offer falls short of what Seoul has been demanding with regards to safeguards.

The North's latest offer on Wednesday came shortly after calls made earlier in the day by religious leaders in South Korea on their government to be more flexible in its negotiations with North Korea for a swift normalization of the Kaesong park.

yonngong@yna.co.kr

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