Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

The North said it “is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority.” (File/AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019
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Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

  • The second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North
  • The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable”

SEOUL: North Korea abruptly withdrew its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North on Friday, Seoul officials said.
The development will likely put a damper on ties between the Koreas and complicate global diplomacy on the North’s nuclear weapons program. Last month, the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea informed South Korea of its decision during a meeting at the liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong on Friday.
The North said it “is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority,” according to a Unification Ministry statement. It didn’t say whether North Korea’s withdrawal of staff would be temporary or permanent.
According to the South Korean statement, the North added that it “will not mind the South remaining in the office” and that it would notify the South about practical matters later. Seoul’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters that South Korea plans to continue to staff the Kaesong liaison office normally and that it expects the North will continue to allow the South Koreans to commute to the office. He said Seoul plans to staff the office with 25 people on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable.” It said South Korea urges the North to return its staff to the liaison office soon.
The liaison office opened last September as part of a flurry of reconciliation steps. It is the first such Korean office since the peninsula was split into a US-backed, capitalistic South and a Soviet-supported, socialist North in 1945. The Koreas had previously used telephone and fax-like communication channels that were often shut down in times of high tension.
The town is where the Korea’s now-stalled jointly run factory complex was located. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea’s cheap labor. Both Koreas want the US to allow sanctions exemptions to allow the reopening of the factory park, which provided the North with much-needed foreign currency.


Pakistan train collision kills at least three

Updated 20 June 2019
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Pakistan train collision kills at least three

  • Baloch said the crash occurred on the main railway track and that train services from Karachi were suspended while the wreckage was being removed
  • Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment

KARACHI: At least three people were killed and several others injured when two trains collided in Pakistan's southern Sindh province on Thursday, officials said.
A driver, assistant driver and a guard were killed when a passenger train travelling to Lahore from the southern port city of Karachi hit a goods train that had stopped at a crossing, railway spokesman Riaz Abbasi told AFP.
Ishaq Baloch, a railway official confirmed the death toll and told AFP that an investigation has been launched to determine the causes of the collision.
Baloch said the crash occurred on the main railway track and that train services from Karachi were suspended while the wreckage was being removed.
All passengers on the train were safe, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, the country's minister for railways told private TV channel ARY.
Video footage on local media showed the damaged engine and bogies of the trains and rescue workers and hundreds of people gathering to rescue the injured.
Train accidents are common in Pakistan, where railways have seen decades of decline due to corruption, mismanagement and lack of investment.