03/22/2019, 15.14
KOREA
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Pyongyang withdraws from inter-Korean liaison office

South Korea’s Unification Ministry was given no explanations for the move. Twenty-five South Korean officials will remain at the office for the coming days. The regular inter-Korean meeting was not held following the failure of the Trump-Kim summit.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korean officials withdrew on Friday from an inter-Korean liaison office (pictured) located in Kaesong, on the intra-Korean border, South Korea’s Unification Ministry announced. The office opened last year as a permanent venue for contacts between the two Koreas.

This comes as the peace and denuclearisation process remain deadlocked  following last month's no-deal summit in Vietnam between North Korea and the United States.

The first consequence of the failure came yesterday when the US imposed sanctions on two Chinese shipping companies that helped Pyongyang evade US and UN sanctions against its nuclear programme.

North Korean officials notified their southern counterparts at the liaison officers' meeting earlier in the day that the North would pull out of the office in accordance with a directive from their government. All North Korean officials then left the building, the Unification Ministry said in its statement.

South Korea’s Deputy Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said that the 25 South Korean officials at the office would remain for the coming days, adding that the North gave no reason for the decision.

"The government considers this withdrawal decision regrettable and hopes the North will return at an early date so that the office will be operated normally," Chun said at a press briefing.

He went on to say that all other inter-Korean communication channels are operating normally and that the government will comprehensively review the situation and consider follow-up measures.

Chun also noted that no unusual signs have been detected over the past week, but the weekly liaison meeting between himself and his North Korean counterpart, Jon Jong-su, was not held.

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