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North Korea calls past deals with South ‘dead’

By JEAN H. LEE Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea declared all military and political agreements with South Korea “dead” today, toughening its stance while accusing Seoul of pushing the peninsula to the brink of war.

The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said Pyongyang was forced to nullify past peacekeeping accords between the two wartime rivals because of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s hard-line stance against the North.

“The group of traitors has already reduced all the agreements reached between the north and the south in the past to dead documents,” the committee in charge of inter-Korean affairs said in a statement.

The North warned that Seoul’s continued hard-line stance would only draw “a heavier blow and shameful destruction” on the South.

South Korea expressed regret, and urged the North to honor agreements with the South.

“Agreements between the South and the North cannot be scrapped unilaterally,” Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said.

The two Koreas technically remain at war because their brutal, three-year conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953. The peninsula remains divided by a heavily fortified demilitarized zone.

Ties have warmed significantly over the past decade, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il meeting with then-South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in a historic summit in 2000. The detente helped pave the way for the first inter-Korean exchanges in 50 years.

But tensions have been high since Lee took office in Seoul nearly a year ago pledging to get tough with Pyongyang.

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