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South Korea Proposes Talks with North on Joint Factory

South Korea wants to open talks with North Korea to settle the dispute that has kept the two countries' joint industrial complex closed for more than two months.

Seoul is proposing a July 6 working-level meeting at the Panmunjom truce village to discuss the fate of their joint venture industrial complex just north of the border, which has not been operational since April.

The South's offer for dialogue was made less than a day after the North said it would allow factory owners to return to the shuttered complex at Kaesong to inspect their machinery. Some of the operators of the facilities there, mostly small to medium-sized textile plants, say they want to remove idled sensitive equipment during the monsoon season.

Kim Hyung-suk is a spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, which oversees relations with the North in lieu of diplomatic ties.

Kim tells reporters that Seoul has had a consistent stance that the problems related to the industrial park should be solved through dialog between authorities of the South and the North.

The Unification Ministry says the South's latest offer to talk was relayed through an unusual face-to-face encounter at Panmunjom Thursday morning.

On April 9 North Korea pulled all of its 53,000 workers from the unique joint venture complex. It blamed provocations by the South.

The last of the South Korean personnel, representing more than 120 companies with facilities there, left Kaesong on May 3.