SEOUL: North and South Korea failed to reach agreement on Wednesday on reopening a joint industrial estate built as a symbol of reconciliation, with Pyongyang accusing Seoul of insincerity, but they will meet again next week.
The two sides separately agreed in principle to hold discussions about restarting family reunions, as they focused on dialogue after months of high military tensions.
The Kaesong estate just north of the border opened in 2004 but shut down three months ago as relations approached crisis point.
At a rare weekend meeting the two sides agreed in principle to reopen the estate, where 53,000 North Koreans worked in 123 Seoul-owned factories producing textiles or light industrial goods.
Talks on Wednesday at the estate failed to reach a firm agreement on a restart but the two sides will meet again next Monday.
“We both agreed that the complex should be maintained and further developed,” the South’s chief delegate Suh Ho told reporters.
“The North argued that it should be resumed as soon as machinery checkups are finished, while we pointed out that the same situation could be repeated even after the reopening if there is no firm guarantee on preventing a recurrence [of the shutdown].
“So it was decided that this issue would be discussed at the next meeting,” he added.
The North said it made “sincere efforts” to reach an agreement.
“But the south side insisted on unreasonable assertions to shift the blame for the suspension of the operation in [Kaesong] onto the north side . . . and intentionally threw hurdles in the way of the talks,” its official news agency complained.