A liaison office building between South and North Korea in Kaesong, North Korea. File picture: South Korea Unification Ministry/Newsis via AP

Seoul - North Korea has announced its unexpected withdrawal from the joint liaison office with South Korea at the shared border, the Unification Ministry in Seoul said on Friday.

Ministry officials said the orders to withdraw from the office, an important communication channel between the long-time rivals, came from the highest authorities in North Korea.

Although no reason was given for the sudden withdrawal, the move follows a failed summit at the end of February between leaders of North Korea and the US, South Korea's ally.

Both sides had not come any closer on the central issue of North Korea's nuclear disarmament.

South Korea may leave its employees in the office, located in the North Korean town of Kaesong near the border.