N.Korea threatens to cut ties with South

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North Korea on Wednesday threatened to restrict and shut all overland passage through the military demarcation line, refuse nuclear sampling, and shut the Red Cross liaison office and all direct telephone lines between the South and the North. The gamble could jeopardize six-party nuclear talks which were expected this year and shut down the joint Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The North Korean military warned it will "strictly restrict and cut off all overland passage" between the two Koreas. The message, to South Korean military authorities, came "upon authorization," meaning by order of leader Kim Jong-il.

Gen. Kim Yong-chol, head of the policy planning office of the North Korean National Defense Commission, the chief delegate to the inter-Korean generals' talks, said, "Despite our repeated warning, the confrontational policy against North Korea by the South Korean puppet authorities, including their military is going beyond the dangerous level." -- an apparent reference to propaganda leaflets dropped by South Korean civic groups. "Inter-Korean relations stand at a crossroads between existence and total severance," he added.

It appears operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex or tours to city of Kaesong has not yet been suspended.

However, it seems highly likely that the complex will be closed unless the South Korean government accepts the North's demand for complete implementation of the June 15, 2000 Joint Declaration and the Oct. 4, 2007 Summit Declaration.

In a luncheon meeting with chief editorial writers from major newspapers, President Lee Myung-bak was quoted by Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Lee Dong-kwan as commenting, "Waiting can sometimes be a strategy."

In a statement, Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun said, "It's a shame. If border is closed, it will have negative effects on the efforts to improve inter-Korean relations."