Koreas 'reach deal' to re-open Kaesong industrial zone

A bus carrying South Korea's delegation leaves for Kaesong on 14 August 2013 The Kaesong zone has been closed for five months

North and South Korean officials have reached an agreement about re-opening the Kaesong joint industrial zone, officials from Seoul say.

Operations there have been suspended since April when the North withdrew its workers amid rising political tensions.

On Wednesday the South's Unification Ministry said a five-point accord had been agreed, but it remains unclear when operations might resume.

It comes after Seoul called for "final talks" following six previous rounds.

The agreement was signed by the chief delegates from the two Koreas, reports the Yonhap news agency. There are few details about the accord, but Yonhap says the deal is believed to ensure that a similar suspension of operations could not be repeated.

"The South and the North will prevent the current suspension of the Kaesong industrial complex caused by the workers' withdrawal from being repeated again," the Agence France-Presse news agency also quoted from the agreement.

A joint committee will also be set up to discuss compensation for economic losses, AFP reports.

Kaesong Industrial Zone

  • Launched in 2003, largely financed by the South to increase co-operation
  • More than 120 factories employ 50,000 North Koreans in manufacturing industries, with goods exported to the South
  • Complex as a whole produced $470m worth of goods in 2012 - the biggest contributor to inter-Korean trade
  • South Korean companies pay more than $80m a year in wages to North Korean workers

The Kaesong Industrial Complex, which lies just inside North Korea, is home to 123 South Korean factories which employ more than 50,000 North Korean workers.

It is the last functioning inter-Korean joint project and a key source of revenue for Pyongyang.

North Korea withdrew its workers in April, angered by the expansion of UN sanctions afters its 12 February nuclear test and annual US-South Korea military drills.

Tensions have eased somewhat since then.

Pyongyang agreed to Wednesday's talks hours after Seoul said it would start distributing compensation payments to South Korean firms hit by the stoppage - a move seen as a precursor to formal closure of the zone.

On Tuesday, the owners of South Korean businesses at the zone called for a deal.

North Korea said last week that reopening Kaesong was in both nations' interests.

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