N Korea quits border liaison with south, US
SEOUL: North Korea pulled out of border liaison talks with US officers on Wednesday and a UN envoy said Pyongyang was continuing to work on a reprocessing plant at the heart of a nuclear standoff with the United States.
The North’s decision to pull out of military liaison talks at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) border between North and South Korea because of annual military exercises in the South removed one of the few conduits for contact between the sides. The pullout announcement from the North’s KCNA news agency came as South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan was flying to Washington for talks set to be dominated by North Korea.
“The chief delegate of the KPA (North Korean army) side to the DPRK-US general-level talks today sent a telephone message in which it said it would not send its liaison officer to the regular contacts of liaison officers at Panmunjom, recognising that it is meaningless to sit together with the US forces side to discuss any issue as long as it remains arrogant,” KCNA said.
Although North Korea and the US have no diplomatic ties and are at loggerheads over the North’s suspected nuclear weapons ambitions, officers from the two sides have continued to meet regularly at Panmunjom, a neutral area inside the DMZ that bisects the peninsula. The US officers represent the United Nations at Panmunjom.
North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said Pyongyang would not beg Washington for bilateral talks but added: “Direct talks are the only way of settling the nuclear issue.” —AFP/Reuters