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North Korea halts communication with South Korea

North Korea halts communication with South Korea
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North Korean officials have moved to sever communication with South Korea, blasting Seoul over defectors it says are sending leaflets containing propaganda over the border between the two nations.

Reuters and The Associated Press reported Tuesday that North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) declared that Pyongyang was taking “the first step of the determination to completely shut down all contact means with South Korea and get rid of unnecessary things.”

"The South Korean authorities connived at the hostile acts against [North Korea] by the riff-raff, while trying to dodge heavy responsibility with nasty excuses,” the state news outlet reportedly continued.

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Balloons sent by North Korean defectors have long been a point of contention between the two countries, with the government in Seoul asserting that defectors living in South Korea have the right to free speech. In 2014, an exchange of gunfire reportedly occurred at the border after North Korean soldiers opened fire on a balloon.

The resulting conflicts created by the launches have reportedly turned public opinion in the South against the defectors' efforts, and residents in towns near the border sometimes attempt to prevent the launches.

It's unclear if South Korean officials will move to temporarily halt the launches, as they have done in the past in the face of condemnation from the North.

“We have reached a conclusion that there is no need to sit face to face with the South Korean authorities and there is no issue to discuss with them, as they have only aroused our dismay,” KCNA continued in its statement.

North Korean officials have also criticized the U.S. in recent days, and in particular Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoTreasury sanctions Iran's ambassador to Iraq Bipartisan group of senators call on Trump to sanction Russia over Navalny poisoning House lawmakers call for continued assistance to Lebanon MORE, who they accused of being "deeply engrossed in espionage and plot-breeding against other countries."