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North Korea withdraws from inter-Korea liaison office
23 March 2019, 01:27 | Tara Lloyd
N Korea quits liaison office with S Korea
Seoul said a number of North Korean officials left the liaison office carrying documents, but most of the equipment was left behind.
"The North's side pulled out after conveying to us that they are doing so on the instructions from a higher level, during a liaison officials' contact this morning", a disappointed South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said on Thursday.
The North's Unification Ministry said Pyongyang "will not mind the South remaining" in the liaison office.
The two Koreas agreed to open the office during a historic April summit between Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to ease tensions between the two countries still technically at war. Please refresh the page for the fullest version.
Chun said the Moon administration does not view North Korean withdrawal from Kaesong as a "violation" of the agreements between President Moon and Kim Jong-un that established the office in September.
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The U.S. Treasury Department identified two Chinese firms for new sanctions - Dalian Haibo International Freight Co Ltd and Liaoning Danxing International Forwarding Co Ltd - which had helped the North evade U.S. and international sanctions, it said.
North Korea abruptly withdrew its staff from a liaison office with South Korea on Friday, a development that is likely to put a damper on ties between the countries and further complicate global diplomacy on North Korea's nuclear program.
The latest sanctions showed there was some "leakage" in North Korea sanctions enforcement by China, but it was mostly abiding by United Nations resolutions, a senior USA official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Such transactions violate the global sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear and missiles program, which include a United Nations ban on almost 90 percent of refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.
The inter-Korean liaison office in Gaeseong, North Korea.
Moon's government had pinned hopes in the Kim-Trump summit for restarting two inter-Korea projects frozen due to political acrimony - a joint factory park in Gaeseong and a mountain resort in North Korea.
The South's Chun said he would not directly link the North's move to the failed Hanoi summit.
There have also been reports of renewed activity at a North Korean nuclear test site, which have been condemned by Donald Trump.
The liaison office is the first since the peninsula was split into a USA -backed capitalistic South and a Soviet-supported socialist North in 1945. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea's cheap labor.
The Treasury statement said Dalian Haibo was targeted for dealings with Paeksol Trading Corp, a company previously designated by United States sanctions on North Korea.
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