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Two Koreas agree to re-open Kaesong industrial zone

Update: September, 11/2013 - 10:54

SEOUL – North and South Korea agreed on Wednesday to reopen their Kaesong joint industrial park on a trial basis from next Monday, five months after it was shut during soaring military tensions.

The setting of a date came after a marathon negotiating session that ran through the night, and marks a tangible step forward for recent efforts to improve cross-border relations.

"The institutional foundation has now been laid for Kaesong to develop into an internationally competitive and stable industrial complex," the South's Unification Ministry said in a statement.

The two sides agreed that operations at the South-funded complex that lies 10km over the border in North Korea would "resume on a trial basis from September 16," it said.

Born out of the "sunshine" reconciliation policy initiated in the late 1990s by then-South Korean president Kim Dae-jung, Kaesong was established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

Wednesday's agreement, which followed talks that began on Tuesday morning and continued through the night, includes plans to host a road show for foreign investors at Kaesong in October.

Seoul had pushed for compensation for the companies hit by the closure, and the two sides appeared to reach a compromise – agreeing to waive taxes for the firms this year.

Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency confirmed an agreement had been reached but offered no details beyond the September 16 re-opening date.AFP

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