North Korea withdraws from DMZ joint liaison office after new US sanctions

# 12:37
22 March 2019

North Korea is withdrawing from a joint liaison office near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) with South Korea, a key symbol of the rapprochement and ongoing peace process between the two countries, ONA reports citing CNN.

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

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.

The office was established after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met at the DMZ for a historic summit last year, which was followed by a meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore.

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

In the statement, 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.

North Korea has yet to issue any direct public statement on the decision to withdraw, which comes after the US slapped two Chinese firms with sanctions for doing business with Pyongyang, the first action taken by Washington against North Korea since the second summit between Kim and Trump ended early with no agreement.