Korea: South proposes new talks with North on joint industrial zone
The Unification Ministry sent a message to the North Korean government proposing that three officials from each side meet at the border truce village of Panmunjom on Saturday, Spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok said.
The proposal came a day after North Korea restored a cross-border hotline and announced it would let the South's businessmen and managers visit the zone to check on mothballed facilities.
North Korea on Wednesday restored its official hotline with the South and said it would allow businessmen to visit a shuttered joint industrial zone in its territory, Seoul officials said.
The North's move came hours after dozens of South Korean firms threatened to withdraw from the zone, complaining they had fallen victim to political bickering between the two rivals.
Dozens of South Korean firms on Wednesday threatened to withdraw from a shuttered joint industrial zone in North Korea, complaining they fell victim to political bickering between the two Koreas.
Representatives of the 123 South Korean companies with factories in Kaesong have repeatedly urged North and South Korea to open talks to revive the moribund industrial park.
Of the 123 companies, 46 are manufacturers of electronics and machinery parts whose facilities are especially vulnerable to humidity in the current monsoon weather in the absence of maintenance.
"The manufacturers of machinery and electronics parts cannot wait any longer. Kaesong must be reopened or they have to move elsewhere", Kim Hak-Kwon, who represents the 46 companies, told journalists.
"It has been 92 days since the complex came to a halt... our patience has been stretched beyond its limit", he said.
Kim urged Seoul and Pyongyang to lose no time in allowing company managers to visit the zone for maintenance.
Several companies have been in talks to move facilities out of Kaesong to relocate them abroad including China, Kim said.
Established in 2004 as a rare symbol of inter-Korean cooperation, the Kaesong industrial estate was the most high-profile casualty of months of elevated tensions that followed the North's nuclear test in February.
Operations at the complex just north of the border ground to a halt soon after the North banned entry by southerners on April 3 amid soaring military tensions with Seoul.
North Korea has deployed new rocket launchers along its border capable of hitting targets beyond Seoul, a report said Sunday.
Artillery units from the North were spotted replacing older multiple rocket stations with an upgraded version of the 240mm guns, Yonhap news agency said.The agency quoted an unnamed government official as saying the new multiple rocket launchers with a maximum range of 70 kilometres (42 miles) could extend their reach beyond the South Korean capital.
The South's defence ministry declined to confirm the report.North Korea has 5,100 multiple rocket launchers, according to military data.
It has been eager to upgrade its mainstream multiple rocket launchers, which pose a serious security threat to South Korea.
Residents in Seoul and neighbouring satellite cities, together home to nearly half the South's 49 million people, have always lived under threat of attack from the North's rockets and long-range artillery.
South Korea has completed the deployment of self-propelled air defense missiles in front-line barracks to deter North Korean threats, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said Tuesday.
The 30-mm anti-aircraft missile was indigenously developed by the Agency for Defense Development in 1999 and the Army's armored units have been equipped with them since 2003.
The missiles are capable of conducting missions day and night and can counter airborne attacks by helicopters and fighter jets, the DAPA said.
The DAPA said it plans to modernize the missile to mount a long-range ballistic missile warhead to be able to hit distant targets.
Voice of Russia, Global Post, AFP