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S. Korea remains cautious on fertilizer aid to N. Korea

2014/03/17 14:28

SEOUL, March 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is cautious on fertilizer aid to North Korea by private relief agencies, an official said Monday, amid fresh signs of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Unification ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do said private organizations should consult with the government on the issue of fertilizer aid to the North.

The comments are widely seen as disapproval of the plan to ship fertilizer to the North by a coalition of about 200 South Korean civic groups.

South Korea has banned fertilizer aid to the North by its private relief agencies since May 2010, when Seoul slapped sanctions on Pyongyang in retaliation for the deadly sinking of a warship blamed on North Korea.

The North has refused to take responsibility for the sinking that killed 46 South Korean sailors.

Kim also reaffirmed that the government is not considering providing fertilizer to the North.

His comments came a day after North Korea fired 25 short-range rockets into waters off its east coast in what may have been a routine military exercise.

The South Korean government gave 2.45 million tons of rice to North Korea between 1995 and 2010, and 2.55 million tons of fertilizer between 1999 and 2007, according to the unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.