Pyongyang to shut UN office and cut off talks with US

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd as he presides over a mass rally and parade in the capital's main ceremonial square, in Pyongyang, North Korea, May 10.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd as he presides over a mass rally and parade in the capital's main ceremonial square, in Pyongyang, North Korea, May 10. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • North Korea said yesterday it would close one of the last remaining channels of communication with the US in protest against new sanctions on leader Kim Jong Un for human rights abuses.

The North's foreign ministry notified the US government that it would effectively halt all communications with Washington through the North's office at the United Nations in New York, state-run KCNA said. "We... have notified the US that we would completely end all official communications through New York," it said.

The North's UN office has long served as a rare avenue of formal and informal communications with the United States, including past talks on nuclear disarmament.

In the message sent through its UN office on Sunday, Pyongyang said all bilateral issues would be handled based on its wartime laws from now on.

These include the two Americans currently detained in the North - college student Otto Warmbier, 21, who was sentenced to 15 years' hard labour in March for stealing a propaganda banner from a hotel; and Korean-American missionary Kim Dong Chul who is serving a jail term on charges of subversion and espionage.

STRONG WORDS

The US would be entirely held responsible for all unfortunate developments that may occur in the future.

KCNA, North Korea's state news agency.

"We have notified the US that the US would be entirely held responsible for all unfortunate developments that may occur in the future," the KCNA said without elaborating.

The US last week imposed new sanctions which describe Mr Kim as being directly responsible for a long list of serious human rights abuses. They are the first that name Mr Kim.

Pyongyang was also angered by moves by the US and South Korea to deploy the advanced THAAD missile defence system on the Korean peninsula.

Its military said it will make a "physical response" to the planned deployment which Washington and Seoul said will be used to counter North Korea's growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2016, with the headline 'Pyongyang to shut UN office and cut off talks with US'. Print Edition | Subscribe