North Korea withdraws staff from inter-Korean liaison office

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North Korea nevertheless responded to the Treasury announcement within a matter of hours by abruptly withdrawing from the joint liaison office in the border town of Kaesong.

The Seoul ministry said the DPRK's withdrawal decision was regrettable, expressing hope that the DPRK side would rapidly return to the office and normally operate it as agreed upon by the two Koreas.

The office opened in September last year to facilitate inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation in accordance with an agreement that President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reached at their first summit in April last year.

U.S. -North Korean engagement has appeared to be in limbo since the February 27-28 summit, despite U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying on March 4 he was hopeful he could send a team to North Korea "in the next couple of weeks".

President Trump had said at the time that Mr Kim had asked for the removal of all sanctions - which the USA could not agree to.

North Korea is struggling to bypass the sanctions with illegal transshipments of oil and attempts to steal money by hacking, but tougher monitoring by the US has made even that more hard to pull off.

That plan was on ice after Trump left his summit in Hanoi with Kim without striking a nuclear accord China and North Korea are allies, and Xi indicated he's unwilling to cross an ocean to meet with Trump until he's certain he'll come away with a trade deal.

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The move comes after the United States placed new sanctions on Chinese companies for conducting business with Pyongyang.

According to South Korea's news agency Yonhap, the International Handball Federation has informed the Korea Handball Federation that North Korea will not participate in this year's Women's Handball World Championships, due to take place in Kumamoto between November 30 and December 15.

Chun called for a careful approach, saying he thinks North Korea is breaking an inter-Korean agreement. According to the newspaper, the intensified contacts between North Korea and Russian Federation could be a sign of it, with at least three visits to Moscow by North Korea's senior diplomats this month. Seoul shut it down in 2016 in retaliation for the North's ballistic missile and nuclear tests. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea's cheap labor.

The North said it "is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority", according to the ministry.

The US Treasury Department yesterday announced punitive measures against Dalian Haibo International Freight Co.

The Treasury Department said that in 2018, North Korean ports received at least 263 tanker deliveries of refined petroleum via United Nations -prohibited ship-to-ship transfers.