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North Korea rejects calls for talks on Kaesong complex

DPA Seoul | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on April 26, 2013

North Korea on Friday rejected South Korea’s latest calls for talks on the re-opening of a shuttered jointly run industrial complex near the border, warning Seoul against issuing further threats in its bid for dialogue.

South Korea had threatened “grave measures” to deal with the standoff in the Kaesong industrial complex if Pyongyang does not negotiate and gave the North a deadline to respond to its call for a meeting.

“This kind of ultimatum made by the South will only lead to no good results,” North Korea’s National Defence Commission said in a statement. “Pyongyang will be the first to take tough action if the South insists on worsening the situation at the border town.” Operations at 123 South Korean companies in the complex have been suspended since April 9, when Pyongyang pulled out all of its 53,000 labourers who worked for the companies.

South Korean President Park Guen Hye was scheduled to meet with foreign affairs and security officials to discuss the standoff, according to presidential spokesman Yoon Chang Jung.

“The meeting is expected to discuss the way forward, including what grave measures will be taken,” according to the Yonhap News Agency.

Kim Hyung Suk, a spokesman for the South’s Ministry of Unification, said Seoul wants to maintain and expand the Kaesong complex, which began operations in 2004 as a project for cooperation, and a source of hard currency for the impoverished North.

If Pyongyang does not agree to talks, Seoul “will take appropriate action,” Kim said, according to Yonhap.

There has been speculation that South Korea would ask its companies to remove their remaining workers from the industrial park in the North Korean border town.

There were still 175 South Korean workers at Kaesong, out of 800 who normally work there.

Six days before operations came to a halt on April 9, the North blocked South Korean personnel and supplies from entering the complex, but allowed people to leave.

Tensions have been high on the Korean Peninsula since North Korea carried out its third nuclear test on February 12, triggering condemnation from the international community and resulting in more sanctions against the reclusive state.

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Published on April 26, 2013
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