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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 97 (March 11, 2010)
*** INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS

South Korea's Red Cross Sends Powdered Milk to North Korea

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Red Cross said on March 10 that it sent 20 tons of powdered skim milk to North Korea as part of humanitarian aid to the impoverished neighbor.

   The aid worth 156 million won (US$137,000) was delivered on two 11-ton trucks across the inter-Korean border and unloaded in the border town of Kaesong, the Red Cross said in a release.

   In January, North Korea accepted a proposal by the South to provide powdered milk along with other types of aid as humanitarian assistance.

   North Korea has relied on international handouts to feed its people since the mid-1990's, with its underage population suffering from years of malnutrition.

   Large-scale food assistance from the South has ground to a halt since President Lee Myung-bak took office in Seoul in early 2008 with a policy demanding the North first show progress in efforts to end its nuclear programs.

   The two countries remain technically at war with each other after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

  
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Labor Groups of Two Koreas Agree to Hold Unification Event in Seoul

SEOUL (Yohap) -- Labor organizations of South and North Korea have agreed to hold a large inter-Korean workers' function for reunification in Seoul on May Day, the North's official media reported on March 7.

   The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that inter-Korean workers' contact was made in Shenyang, China, on March 5-6, with both sides reaching agreement on holding the event to mark the 120th May Day.

   The organizations also discussed ways of boosting solidarity between workers in South and North Korea and promoting national reconciliation this year, which marks the 10th anniversary of the historic June 15 Joint Declaration, or the outcome of the first inter-Korean summit.

   The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) in Seoul said that representatives from the three labor organizations will meet in the near future to discuss details for the envisioned unification meeting.

   The KCTU, a militant South Korean umbrella labor group, expressed hope that the agreement would help improve inter-Korean relations that have remained chilly since the conservative government of Lee Myung-bak took power in the South in early 2008.

   An official of the Seoul government said that it is yet not appropriate to say whether it will give the green light to a visit by North Koreans as the KCTU and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, the larger of South Korea's two umbrella labor organizations, have yet to report the results of their meeting.

   Meanwhile, the KCNA said on March 9 that members of a national committee for the implementation of the June 15 Joint Declaration agreed to hold an event to commemorate the 10th anniversary with representatives of all political parties and organizations and personages of different circles attending.

   At a meeting held in Pyongyang on March 7-8, the members representing North Korea, South Korea and overseas Koreans decided to separately form preparatory committees in order to successfully promote the event, the KCNA said.

  (END)