Tags: Korea | talks | detente | nuclear

SKorea Begins Trade Talks With North

Tuesday, 19 Jan 2010 10:14 AM

 

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SEOUL — A South Korean team started talks in North Korea Tuesday on a joint business project despite last week's threats from Pyongyang of a possible attack on its neighbour.

The two sides began two days of talks to discuss ways to revitalise their jointly-operated industrial estate at Kaesong just north of the border, Seoul's unification ministry said.

"Today's meeting will provide an opportunity to have frank discussions on the question of developing the Kaesong industrial park in a stable way," said Seoul's chief delegate Kim Young-Tak before leaving for the estate.

The two sides agreed last week on the meeting at Kaesong, the latest in a series of apparently conciliatory moves by the North after months of tensions.

But the meeting appeared in doubt Friday when the North launched a verbal broadside against the South -- hours after it had agreed to accept food aid from Seoul.

Its National Defence Commission, the top decision-making body, threatened to cut all dialogue and cooperation unless the South apologises for an alleged contingency plan to handle regime collapse in the North.

The commission also warned of a "holy war" against the South should there be any attempt to carry out the plan. Related article: Sanctions 'must end' before nuclear talks, says N.Korea

"Given the North's recent behaviour, it seems as though it would be impossible for even God to understand North Korea's policies and actions toward South Korea," the JoongAng Daily said in an editorial Tuesday headlined "The North's erratic behaviour".

The cash-strapped North has faced tighter sanctions since its nuclear and missile tests last year. It appears eager to promote economic projects with the South despite the fiery rhetoric.

Last week Pyongyang called for the resumption of lucrative tours by South Koreans to the North.

The Kaesong estate employs 42,000 North Koreans in 117 South Korean firms, with wages paid in dollars to state bodies and not to the workers directly.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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