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NKorea agrees to talks with SKorea: officials

world Updated: Jun 05, 2009 12:59 IST

AFP
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North Korea on Friday agreed to hold talks with South Korea next week, Seoul officials said, amid high tensions between the two nations.

The North has accepted a proposal for working-level talks on June 11 at the Kaesong joint industrial complex just north of the border, according to South Korea's unification ministry.

South Korean and US troops have gone on heightened alert since the North staged a nuclear test in late on May, renounced the armistice that ended the Korean war in the 1950s and threatened the South with possible attack.

South Korean officials say they fear the North will stage a border provocation on land or at sea.

Next week's talks will focus on operations at Kaesong.

The two Koreas held their first government-level talks in more than a year on April 21, at which the North demanded pay rises for its workers at the Seoul-funded estate and land-use fees.

Seoul said the fate of a South Korean manager at Kaesong who has been detained since March 30 must be settled before any other negotiations.

Last month the communist North announced it has scrapped all wage and rent agreements in force at the estate. It told some 100 South Korean companies to leave if they cannot accept new terms.

The announcement cast doubt on the continued operations of the estate, opened in December 2004 as a symbol of reconciliation but frequently hit by political tensions.