World News

North Korea cutting ties was expected: South Korean envoy

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea’s decision on Tuesday to severe all ties with the South was largely expected, South Korea’s envoy to the United States said, as Seoul renewed calls for the North to apologize for torpedoing its warship.

“Those things are somewhat expected ... What is important is that North Korea should apologize and they should penalize the person who is responsible for this,” Ambassador Han Duk-soo told Reuters.

North Korea said it would “totally freeze the inter-Korean relations”.

Tension on the divided peninsula have reached as new high after the March sinking of a South Korean warship, which Seoul believes was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine which infiltrated its waters.

Han said a newly announced U.S.-South Korean anti-submarine exercise would help deter North Korea from launching another attack.

“That kind of exercise will certainly be enhancing the capabilities against that kind of attack that can be made by submarines,” he said. It would also serve as a “kind of deterrence,” Han added.

Most analysts doubt either side would risk a war, which would be suicidal for the North and economically disastrous for the South.

The United States has 28,000 troops on the peninsula. Pentagon officials have repeatedly said those forces have not been placed on a heightened state of readiness following the March incident.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by David Storey