Pyongyang pulls out of inter-Korean liaison office

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Seoul, March 22 (IANS) North Korea on Friday withdrew from a joint liaison office near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) with South Korea, which was opened amid a warming of ties last year to facilitate talks with Seoul.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced the move, saying the decision had been taken by the North on “instructions from the superior authority”, CNN reported.

In its communication with the South, Pyongyang said it would not mind Seoul’s representatives “remaining in the office,” which is based in Kaesong, a part of North Korea near the de-facto border between the two countries.

Pyongyang said it would notify Seoul regarding “further practical matters in the future”.

In response to the development, the Unification Ministry said South Korea regrets the decision, and urged the North to return soon and continue the work being done at the liaison office towards a full peace settlement.

The liaison office, which was established after North’s Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the DMZ for a historic summit last year, had allowed officials from North and South Korea to communicate on a regular basis for the first time since the Korean War.

The staff constitutes of equal number from each side.

North Korea is yet to issue any direct public statement on the decision to withdraw.

The move comes after the US on Thursday slapped two Chinese firms with sanctions for doing business with Pyongyang, the first action taken by Washington since the second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Hanoi last month ended without an agreement.

–IANS

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