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S. Korea, DPRK close talks without breakthrough
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The third round of talks between South Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) ended without an afternoon session on Wednesday, making no progress from the previous negotiations.

"Although we discussed over holding an afternoon session to continue talks, we failed to meet again as we could not narrow differences on the issues," Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said.

No date for a follow-up meeting has been specified yet, Chun added.

Amid optimistic expectations on breakthroughs prevalent in South Korea, the talks over the Kaesong joint industrial complex started at 10 a.m. (0100 GMT) as scheduled in Kaesong, only to end after lasting an hour and 10 minutes.

The inter-Korean dialogue, just as the previous two rounds held in June, was expected to adjourn in the afternoon, but the DPRK did not respond to the South's request to resume it, local media reported.

During the morning session, South Korea brought up the issue of its worker, who has been detained in the DPRK since late March for publicly denouncing the regime, but failed to reach any progressed conclusion, Chun said.

South Korea also requested the DPRK of halting its criticism on the South Korean president, Chun added.

The DPRK, on the other hand, showed strong discontent over South Korea's raising the issue of its detained worker, saying it could not take such "unreasonable" requests.

The DPRK, instead, insisted that South Korea should first focus on building dormitories and nurseries for its workers in the Kaesong Joint Industrial Complex.

The DPRK also kept clinging to a land rent raise to 500 million U.S. dollars, which is 41-times the current level.

The South Korean delegation, after waiting for about four hours, headed back for Seoul at local time 17:00 (0800 GMT).

The two sides met amid the DPRK "cash-strained" by tightened financial sanctions the international society, led by the United States, decided to place on the nation for its second-time nuclear test on May 25.

The two sides have met twice in June, during which the DPRK brought up cash-related issues, claiming that South Korea should raise its monthly wages for DPRK workers and the land rent.

The DPRK, at the same time, backed off on non-cash issues, such as lifting a border traffic ban it had imposed on South Korean workers and cargo trucks.

The Kaesong complex, where 106 South Korean companies operate with some 40,000 DPRK workers, makes a variety of products, from electronics and watches to shoes and utensils.

The park, located in the DPRK's border town of Kaesong, was jointly set up as a reconciliation project of the two sides.

(Xinhua News Agency July 2, 2009)

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