North and South Korea have agreed to take steps to reopen the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ), a rare source of hard currency for the impoverished North.
Following talks that lasted more than 16 hours, the two sides pledged on Sunday to revive operations at the jointly run zone as soon both sides were ready.
The two will hold a next meeting on July 10 at the industrial zone in order to conduct inspections and to prevent an operation suspension in the future.
“We got an impression that the North was very willing to resolve the Kaesong issue and is making great efforts as well,” South Korea’s chief delegate Suh Ho told reporters after the talks.
Seoul will press Pyongyang for a guarantee that there won’t be any stoppage at the facility as a political bargaining tactic. The South has said KIZ can resume operations only if the North gives such an assurance.
North Korea said resuming operations at the park was a rapid priority, but the two sides had been unable to agree on firm measures to avoid a repeat of the stoppage.
North Korea closed the complex of factories three months ago, withdrawing all of its 53,000 workers, and banned South Korean firms’ managers from crossing the border with supplies at the height of tensions between the two countries.
A previous attempt at dialogue a month ago collapsed in acrimony amid arguments over protocol.
Earlier this year, North Korea threatened strikes with nuclear and other missiles against the South and the US after the UN imposed toughened sanctions on the North for its third nuclear test in February.