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    N.Korea threatens to cut all ties with S.Korea

    AFP
    16.10.2008 - 15:28 | Son Güncelleme:

    North Korea threatened Thursday to cut all ties with South Korea if its new conservative government continues a policy of "reckless confrontation" with Pyongyang.

    The threat issued through the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun came just days after the communist state reached a deal with the United States to re-start a nuclear disarmament program.

     

    Analysts said the North was trying to divide Washington and its ally Seoul, which are partners in a six-nation disarmament pact.

     

    Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary that President Lee Myung-Bak’s administration is negating agreements reached at inter-Korean summits and pursuing confrontation and war with the North.

     

    "If the group of traitors keeps to the road of reckless confrontation with the DPRK (North Korea), defaming its dignity despite its repeated warnings, this will compel it to make a crucial decision including the total freeze of the North-South relations," it said.

     

    The North has for months heaped insults on Lee, terming him a "traitor" and a "U.S. sycophant" after he promised a firmer line in cross-border relations.

     

    Pyongyang has already cut almost all government-to-government exchanges. But civic and artistic groups from the South still visit and the Kaesong joint industrial complex north of the border is operating normally.

     

    The South’s unification ministry played down the commentary.

     

    "This is not tantamount to the (North Korean) government’s position," said spokesman Kim Ho-Nyoun.

     

    "As publicly stated many times before, the (South Korean) governments position is to meet and talk to resolve pending inter-Korean issues."

     

    The spokesman noted the use of the phrase "defaming its dignity".

     

    North Korea this month strongly complained about South Korean groups which float leaflets denouncing leader Kim Jong-Il and his regime across the heavily fortified border.

     

    It threatened to evict all South Korean staff from the Kaesong estate unless Seoul stopped the practice. But defector groups went ahead with a leaflet launch last Friday, ignoring requests from the unification ministry.

     

    Lee’s liberal predecessors practiced a decade-long "sunshine" engagement policy with the North and held summits in 2000 and 2007. Critics said the tens of millions of dollars which Seoul spent on aid and cross-border projects brought little in return.

     

    Lee took office in February and promised to link economic aid more closely to progress in nuclear disarmament. He said he would review the summit agreements on joint economic projects.

     

    Pyongyang reacted furiously. Relations soured further when soldiers in July shot dead a Seoul tourist who strayed into a restricted military zone at the North’s Mount Kumgang resort.

     

    South Korea suspended tours to the resort in response.

     

    Last weekend the U.S. dropped the North from a terrorism blacklist and the North announced it would resume disabling its nuclear plants.

     

    "North Korea is trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States, amid signs of its improving relations with the U.S.," Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told AFP.

     

    He said the North had traditionally taken a tougher line on the South at times when its relations with the U.S. were relatively good.

     

    "North Koreas current policy baseline focuses on disrupting the U.S.-South Korean alliance and stoking an internal feud within South Korea," Kim Taewoo, of the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses, told Yonhap news agency.

     

    It was unclear whether Pyongyang was now threatening to shut down tours to the city of Kaesong, the only other venue in the North which ordinary South Koreans can visit.

     

    South Korea’s Hyundai Asan, which runs tour business in the North, said another 232 tourists visited Kaesong Thursday.

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