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(2nd LD) N. Korea cuts inter-Korean military hotline
SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Wednesday that it will cut a military hotline with South Korea, the latest in a string of provocations that include the North's unilateral severance of an inter-Korean Red Cross hotline about two weeks ago.

  "The Supreme Command of the Korean People's Army solemnly declared that... Due to the reckless acts of the enemies, the north-south military communications which were set up for dialogue and cooperation between the north and the south has already lost its significance," the North's Korean Central News Agency said in a report, citing hostility from the United States and South Korea.

   The report said that the North sent a message to the South at 11:20 a.m., quoting the head of the North Korean side's delegation to the north-south general-level military talks as saying, "I, upon authorization, inform the south side that the north-south military communications will be cut off and the members of the north side at the military communications liaison office in the zone under the control of the north and the south in the west coastal area will stop their activities from this moment."

   Earlier on March 11, the communist North disconnected the inter-Korean Red Cross hotline that ran through the truce village of Panmunjom.


The latest move is feared to affect the operation of the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North's border town of Kaesong, as the west coastal military hotline is used for guaranteeing the safety of South Korean personnel commuting to and from the Kaesong complex, according to analysts in Seoul.

   The military hotline has been used to notify the North of any planned movement of people and vehicles to the Kaesong complex located just north of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas.

   The links were initially established in 2006 to prevent accidental clashes between the two sides.

   Related to the report, South Korea's Ministry of Unification confirmed that the North is no longer answering calls made on the hotline.

   "The North must take immediate steps to reconsider its actions," a ministry official said. He stressed that the latest move does not in any way help the stable management of the Kaesong complex.

   The official, however, said that despite the North shutting off contact, movement of people and vehicle traffic took place without problems during the day. He pointed out that notification processes over the demilitarized zone have all been exchanged three days in advance.

   The ministry in charge of inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation said that when the North cut the military hotline in 2009, operations at Kaesong continued, because Seoul used alternate channels to contact the communist country.

   The latest development, meanwhile, comes after Pyongyang said earlier in the month that it will nullify the Armistice Agreement that halted the Korean War and no longer respect non-aggression pacts reached between the two Koreas in the past.