North Korea pulls out of liaison office with South after new US sanctions

North Korea pulls out of liaison office with South after new US sanctions
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North Korea on Friday withdrew from a liaison office in South Korea in response to the first U.S. sanctions levied against Pyongyang since a second nuclear summit broke down last month. 

“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,” South Korea’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung said in a briefing, according to Reuters

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Chun added that South Korea regrets the decision and called for a swift return to the arrangement for the office, which was first set up in September after a historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in.

The bureau was set up as a channel of communication between the two nations, which technically remain at war.

Pyongyang’s announcement came after the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control penalized two Chinese firms for violating international and U.S. prohibitions on trade with North Korea in response to the nation’s nuclear and missile programs. 

“The North sees its nuclear issue and ties with the United States as a matter of greater strategic importance, so when they try to assert its position, they sacrifice the ties with the South, which is considered inferior,” Shin Beom-chul of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul told Reuters.

The North’s withdrawal from the office comes as a second blow to Moon, who has cast himself as a key mediator to end the long-standing rift on the Korean Peninsula and whose stock first took a hit after February’s failed summit between Kim and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE.