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Koreas consulting over new round of official talks

Koreas consulting over new round of official talks

North and South Korea are discussing the possibility of a new round of government-level talks, a Seoul official said Tuesday, after a brief and contentious meeting last month ended with little progress.
Government officials from the divided countries met on April 21 in the North Korean border city of Kaesong for their first official talks since a conservative, pro-U.S. government took office in Seoul early last year with a tougher policy on the North.
The meeting, however, lasted just 22 minutes and failed to produce a breakthrough in resolving their strained ties.
Kim Ho-nyeon, a spokesman at the South Korean Unification Ministry, said Tuesday that the two sides "are consulting regarding a follow-up contact." Kim refused to provide further details.
During last month's talks, North Korea said it would reconsider giving preferential treatment _ such as free land and cheap wages paid to North Korean workers _ to South Koreans working at a joint industrial complex in Kaesong, where more than 100 South Korean companies run factories.
The showcase industrial zone, located just across the border, is the last major joint inter-Korean project still in operation. The North has halted other programs in anger over Seoul's tougher policy.
During the meeting, the North also refused a request to free a South Korean worker being held at the Kaesong complex for allegedly denouncing the North's political system.
Tension on the Korean peninsula has intensified since the North launched a rocket on April 5, ignoring repeated international warnings. Pyongyang claims it put a satellite into orbit, while the U.S. and its allies counter it was really a test of the country's advanced missile technology.
The U.N. Security Council adopted a statement denouncing the launch and imposed sanctions on three North Korean companies, prompting Pyongyang to threaten to conduct nuclear and missile tests.
Besides the South Korean worker, Pyongyang has also detained two U.S. journalists that the North alleges crossed into the country from China on March 17. The communist nation has said it will try them for alleged border incursion and unspecified "hostile acts."


Updated : 2021-05-17 03:03 GMT+08:00