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North Korea to lift factory ban as tensions ease with South


North Korea is to lift a ban on operations at a jointly run factory park, which has been closed since Pyongyang withdrew its 53,000 workers in April amid tensions with the South.

The rivals have agreed to meet next week for talks, reviving hopes for the resumption of production at the Kaesong complex, the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation from an earlier period of detente.

The industrial park combined South Korean initiative, capital and technology with cheap North Korean labour. It was also a rare source of hard currency for North Korea, though the economically depressed country scoffed at suggestions that it needed the money Kaesong generated.

North Korea said it will lift its ban on operations at the complex, including restrictions on the entry of South Korean managers. But the two countries must formally settle their differences before production can resume. Six previous meetings on the park’s fate ended in deadlock.

The statement by the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which is responsible for dealings with Seoul, appeared to accept a South Korean demand that North Korea won’t unilaterally close the industrial complex should tensions between the rivals rise again.