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SKorean lawmakers tour inter-Korean factory park

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HYUNG-JIN KIM | October 29, 2013 11:26 PM EST | AP

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea lawmakers on Wednesday toured a jointly run factory park in North Korea for the first time since it reopened last month after a five-month shutdown.

The Kaesong complex just north of the border is the last remaining inter-Korean rapprochement project. Its operations halted in April when Pyongyang withdrew its workers amid high tension over Pyongyang's repeated threats of nuclear war.

North Korea later toned down its rhetoric and sought to revive dormant reconciliation projects with South Korea, but animosities remain between the rivals. Pyongyang abruptly canceled planned reunions last month of families separated by war.

On Wednesday, 21 South Korean lawmakers traveled to the Kaesong complex to look at its operations and meet with South Korean businessmen there, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Park Soo-jin told reporters in Seoul. The lawmakers were to return home the same day, she said.

Analysts say Pyongyang's approval of the lawmakers' visit shows its desire to develop the park and resume other stalled lucrative cross-border cooperation projects.

North Korea last week repatriated six South Korean men accused of illegal entry in a rare action seen as an effort to improve frayed ties with South Korea.

The Korean Peninsula officially remains at state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.