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(2nd LD) N.K. rejects S. Korean aid provider's inter-Korean exchanges, citing sanctions

2017/06/05 17:58

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(ATTN: UPDATES with more info throughout)

SEOUL, June 5 (Yonhap) -- A South Korean civic group said Monday that it will delay shipments of aid supplies to North Korea and its plan to visit North Korea as Pyongyang took issue with U.N. sanctions against the North.

The Korean Sharing Movement is preparing to send pesticide and medical supplies to fight Malaria to North Korea as the government has decided to flexibly resume inter-Korean exchanges.

Kang Young-sik, the secretary-general of the group, said that Pyongyang took issue with the South Korean government's attitude toward the latest adoption of U.N. sanctions against the North.

"We've decided to put off our plans to deliver the supplies' shipments and to visit North Korea for cooperation," Kang said.

Last Friday, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to sanction more North Korean officials and entities, including a military unit handling ballistic missiles, after the North carried out a series of defiant missile tests.

North Korea's response is likely to dampen liberal President Moon Jae-in's move to seek engagement with North Korea.

If the North accepted the Korean Sharing Movement's shipments, it could have become the first local civic group to provide humanitarian assistance to the North since January 2016.

The government under former President Park Geun-hye has suspended almost all civilian exchanges with North Korea since the country's fourth nuclear test early last year.

On May 22, Seoul's unification ministry said that it will sternly respond to North Korea's provocative acts, but plans to resume civilian inter-Korean exchanges to an extent that the move would not hamper the international sanctions regime.

The government has approved a total of 15 requests by civic groups to contact North Koreans over inter-Korean exchanges since Moon took office in May.

A ministry official said the government has no comment on North Korea's latest rejection.

Meanwhile, a local civic group to seek a joint summit anniversary event slated for June 15 remains divided over the venue with its North Korean counterpart.

The South's part is hoping to hold the event in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, but the North's side reportedly insists that it should be held in Pyongyang.

The ministry cast a prudent stance over whether it will approve the South group's visit, saying that it will take into account the event's purpose, inter-Korean relations and the international environment.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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