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S. Korea holds meeting to review US$8 mln in aid to N. Korea

2017/09/21 10:27

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SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korean officials on Thursday held a meeting to decide whether to provide US$8 million in aid to North Korea via U.N. agencies as it seeks to handle humanitarian issues separately from political situations.

Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon hosted an interagency meeting to review Seoul's aid plan for infants and pregnant women in North Korea, according to the ministry.

The move comes as international sanctions and pressure are deepening over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

"The government has pursued the stance that humanitarian aid to those who are vulnerable in North Korea should be separated from political consideration," the minister said at the start of the meeting.

Cho said that U.N. Security Council resolutions on Pyongyang reaffirmed that they are not intended to negatively affect humanitarian activities for North Koreans.

"The international community is sternly responding to the North's provocations but also emphasizing the need to extend humanitarian assistance to North Koreans," he said. "Separating aid from politics is the global community's universal principles and shared value."

   Critics have raised concerns that Seoul's aid may compromise international efforts to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and missile aspirations.

The government earlier said that it plans to decide on the timing of an actual provision after taking into account the inter-Korean situation even if Seoul grants its aid plan.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday called for urgent help to North Korean children, saying that supporting them is not related to politics.

If approved, it will be the first humanitarian assistance by Seoul under the Moon Jae-in administration, which took office in May. It will also mark the resumption of the aid supply via U.N. organizations since December 2015.

South Korea offered humanitarian assistance to the North even under conservative administrations, but Moon's predecessor under an ousted President Park Geun-hye held off the aid after the North's fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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