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North Korea severs all ties with South

Seoul, May 25 (Reuters): North Korea said today it was severing all ties with the South and threatened its wealthy neighbour with military action if it continued to violate its waters off the west coast.

The comments mark a new high in tensions on the divided peninsula after the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which Seoul blames on a torpedo fired by the North.

“The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.... formally declares that from now on it will put into force the resolute measures to totally freeze the inter-Korean relations, totally abrogate the agreement on non-aggression between the north and the south and completely halt the inter-Korean cooperation,” the North’s KCNA news agency reported.

It will also expel personnel from the Kaesong industrial park, a joint North-South venture just inside its border. But it was not immediately clear what impact that would have on factories operating there.

The industrial estate, in which South Korean firms employ cheap North Korean labour, has long been an important source of revenue for the Pyongyang leadership.

North Korea earlier warned the South that if it continued to cross into its side of their disputed sea border the North would “put into force practical military measures to defend its waters”.

The furious war of words — the North referred to the South’s government as “military gangsters” — follows a report by international investigators last week which accused the hermit North of torpedoing the Cheonan corvette in March, killing 46 sailors. Yesterday, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak cut trade with his neighbour and blocked its commercial ships from sailing through the South's waters.

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