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NK's liaison office demolition not in breach of military pact with South: minister


North Korea's surprise demolition of an inter-Korean liaison office last week is not in breach of the latest military tension reduction agreement between the two Koreas, Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo here said Monday.     
Speaking to a plenary session of the parliamentary standing committee on national defense, the minister said the demolition "has nothing to do with the Sept. 19 military agreement."

"The military pact deals with various measures to prevent direct and accidental military clashes. ... It has nothing to do with the joint inter-Korean liaison office," according to Jeong.

The minister was referring to the landmark military agreement signed in Pyongyang at the end of the third summit meeting between President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in September 2018.

Kim's powerful younger sister Kim Yo-jong threatened to scrap the deal altogether in early June in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets sent across the border by activists and North Korea defectors in South Korea.

Last week, North Korea blew up an inter-Korean liaison office in its border town of Kaesong in a surprise provocation against South Korea.

Taking issue with the demolition and a recent series of vitriolic rhetoric by North Korea against Seoul, South Korea's main opposition United Future Party claimed that the 2018 military pact has been unquestionably abolished by Pyongyang's recent actions.  

Asked if North Korea's destruction of the liaison office constitutes the abolition of the pact, Jeong said "so far, it does not."

For now, South Korea sees no signs of North Korea preparing to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile, but it is closely watching the situation for a potential launch, the defense minister also said. 

Commenting on Kim Yo-jong taking the lead in North Korea's recent inflammatory rhetoric with the South, the minister noted that she "seems to be playing a role as the No. 2 (leader) ... as a villain" so that Kim Jong-un can take over when the country's ties with South Korea and the United States get better. (Yonhap)