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Inter-Korean Trade Surges Despite Nuclear Standoff

Map of North and South Korea.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Oct 06, 2006
Trade between South and North Korea rose sharply this year despite tensions over the communist country's missile and nuclear programs, official data showed Friday. Inter-Korean trade rose 12.1 percent year-on-year to 775.5 million dollars in the first eight months of this year, the ministry of commerce, industry and energy said in a report to parliament.

The ministry attributed the increase to brisk growth of a joint industrial complex in the North's border city of Kaesong.

Inter-Korean trade involving the complex amounted to 181.6 million dollars, 23.4 percent of the total volume during the January-August period, it said.

The trade from Kaesong accounted for 17 percent of last year's total inter-Korean trade volume of one billion dollars.

Seoul hopes to make the complex a development model that combines its capital and North Korea's cheap labor. Currently only 15 South Korean firms operate in Kaesong.

Seoul hopes the complex will significantly reduce Cold War tensions which have existed since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

But US officials have expressed concern that it could help to prolong the North's despotic leadership. They are resisting attempts to have its goods included in a proposed US-South Korean free trade agreement.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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British Finance Minister Heckled Over Nuclear Policy
London (AFP) Oct 08, 2006
British finance minister Gordon Brown was heckled Sunday by a protestor over his stance on the renewal of the country's independent nuclear deterrent. Brown, who is likely to succeed Prime Minister Tony Blair who is to step down within a year, was taking questions from the audience at a book promotion session as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival.

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