North Korea says it will sever hotlines with South Korea - KCNA
By Josh Smith and Sangmi Cha SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Tuesday it will sever hotlines with South Korea as the first step toward shutting down all contact with Seoul, state news agency KCNA reported. For several days, North Korea has lashed out at South Korea, threatening to close an inter-Korean liaison office and other projects if the South does not stop defectors from sending leaflets and other material into the North. Top government officials in North Korea, including leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, and Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, determined 'that the work towards the South should thoroughly turn into the one against an enemy,' KCNA said.
By Josh Smith and Sangmi Cha
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Tuesday it will sever hotlines with South Korea as the first step toward shutting down all contact with Seoul, state news agency KCNA reported.
For several days, North Korea has lashed out at South Korea, threatening to close an inter-Korean liaison office and other projects if the South does not stop defectors from sending leaflets and other material into the North.
Top government officials in North Korea, including leader Kim Jong Un's sister, Kim Yo Jong, and Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, determined "that the work towards the South should thoroughly turn into the one against an enemy," KCNA said.
As a first step, at noon on Tuesday, North Korea will close lines of communication at an inter-Korean liaison office, and hotlines between the two militaries and presidential offices, the report said.
On Tuesday morning, North Korean officials did not answer a routine daily call to the liaison office, nor calls on military hotlines, Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean officials.
On Monday morning, North Korea did not answer the liaison phone call for the first time since 2018, though it later answered an afternoon call.
The decision to cut communications mark a setback in relations amid efforts to try and persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons programme in exchange for relief on tough international sanctions. The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Shares of South Korea's defence firms surged after North Korea announced it would sever the hotlines.
Analysts said the move is likely about more than the defectors, as North Korea is under increasing economic pressure as the coronavirus crisis and international sanctions take their toll.
"North Korea is in a much more dire situation then we think," said Choo Jae-woo, a professor at Kyung Hee University "I think they are trying to squeeze something out of the South."
Cutting communications is "a well-worn play for Pyongyang," but one that can be dangerous, Daniel Wertz, of the U.S.-based National Committee on North Korea, said on Twitter.
"Regular communication channels are needed most during a crisis, and for that reason North Korea cuts them off to create an atmosphere of heightened risk," he said.
The people of North Korea have "been angered by the treacherous and cunning behavior of the South Korean authorities, with whom we still have lots of accounts to settle," KCNA said.
The report accused South Korean authorities of irresponsibly allowing defectors to hurt the dignity of North Korea's supreme leadership.
"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 said.
(Reporting by Josh Smith and Sangmi Cha; Editing by Chris Reese, Grant McCool, Lincoln Feast and Gerry Doyle)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
U.S. home sales fall as tight supply boosts prices | Reuters
France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.