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N. Korea urges S. Korea to quickly agree to talks on suspended tours

All Headlines 16:00 October 14, 2010

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea urged South Korea on Thursday to agree to talks on resuming their suspended cross-border tourism project "as soon as possible," an official said, adding pressure on Seoul wary of possible implications on other inter-Korean exchanges.

The North made the demand in a message delivered to South Korean officials in the North Korean border town of Kaesong, the Unification Ministry in Seoul said. The North had proposed that the talks be held on Friday, but the South has remained undecided on whether and when to hold the talks, asking the communist country to be patient in a message sent early in the week.

The tours, which brought the communist country millions of U.S. dollars each year, were suspended in 2008 when a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier after apparently wandering into a restricted zone near the joint resort.

The North has frozen or seized South Korean assets at the resort since earlier this year in anger over Seoul's refusal to resume the tours until the North allows a renewed probe and implements a variety of measures aimed at guaranteeing the safety of tourists.

The North's proposal for tourism talks came about a week after an inter-Korean meeting of Red Cross officials on Sept. 24, during which the sides finalized plans for the reunions of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce.

The agreement to hold the first reunion event in a year at Mount Kumgang came after three rounds of Red Cross talks in Kaesong. It was seen as the latest sign that tension on the peninsula after the sinking of a South Korean warship may be easing.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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