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Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 09:33 UK

N Korea offers talks with South

By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Seoul

North Korean workers at a textile factory in Kaesong
Some 38,000 North Koreans are employed at the Kaesong complex

North Korea has proposed reopening talks with South Korea on the future of the Kaesong factory park.

The complex is run by South Korean companies, employs North Korean workers and is based just north of the border.

The offer comes after tensions between the two Koreas have increased sharply over the past few months, especially over the North's recent nuclear test.

The North Korean and South Korean governments have been arguing about the future of Kaesong for several months.

Earlier this year the North proposed changing the conditions under which the South's firms operate, but those discussions broke down after one meeting.

Rare opportunity

North Korea had demanded wage increases for its workers and proposed changes to contracts but refused to discuss the fate of a South Korean from the factory park it has in detention.

He has been accused of criticising the North's political system.

A North Korean border guard at Panmunjom, file image
An atmosphere of suspicion persists on both sides of the border

Now Pyongyang is offering officials in Seoul another chance to meet, next week.

For the South Koreans it will be a rare opportunity to sit down with their opposite numbers from the North.

Their officials will want again to try to establish what has happened to the worker in detention.

They will also see the talks as a chance to protest against the North Korean's recent nuclear bomb test.

The North Koreans are not talking, in public at least, with anyone at the moment so the offer to meet is significant.

But past experience suggests their officials will see the talks simply as an opportunity to set out the new terms and conditions they want to impose on South Korean companies working on their side of the border.



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