North and South Korea agree to reopen joint Kaesong industrial park

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Kaesong Industrial Complex is a key source of revenue for North Korea.
North and South Korea agreed Wednesday to reopen their Kaesong joint industrial park next week, five months after it was shut during soaring military tensions. Following a marathon negotiation session that went through the night, the two sides set a date of Sept. 16 for restarting the shuttered complex, the South\’s Unification Ministry said. 
The South\’s Unification Ministry says negotiators reached the deal on the Kaesong industrial complex following lengthy negotiations that lasted through early Wednesday.
The two sides tentatively agreed last month to re-open the facility, which was effectively closed by the North in April. But the South was still looking for compensation for its companies hit by the closure and for assurances a shutdown would not happen again.
The South\’s statement said the two sides agreed that South Korean companies would not pay taxes for this year. They also agreed to open the complex to foreign investors, which could make it harder to shut down operations in the future. 
North Korean state media confirmed the September 16 re-opening date, but offered no other details.
North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers from Kaesong in April. It blamed rising tensions from joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises. It was also angry over expanded U.N. sanctions in response to its third nuclear test.
Since 2004, Kaesong has been an important symbol of cooperation between Seoul and Pyongyang, which remain in a technical state of war since their 1950s conflict ended only in a truce. 
Over 120 South Korean businesses use Kaesong to manufacture a variety of products with cheap North Korean labor. In turn, the industrial park serves to provide vital foreign currency to the impoverished North.
Wednesday\’s announcement is the latest sign of easing tensions on the Korean peninsula. Last month the two Koreas also agreed to resume stalled talks on reuniting families forcefully separated six decades ago by the Korean War. 
Last week, the North also restored a military hotline on the countries\’ tense, heavily armed border that was severed at the height of this year\’s tensions.
Source: Agencies

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