June 28, 2017 12:04
The Unification Ministry has approved the Eugene Bell Foundation's application to send W1.9 billion worth of medicines for tuberculosis and materials to build hospital wards to North Korea, the ministry said Tuesday (US$1=W1,137).
The foundation is dedicated to treating multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the North. It is the first approval of humanitarian assistance to the North by the Moon Jae-in administration. The goods will be sent to Nampo port on a Chinese ship next month.
Foundation chair Stephen Linton and other staff are expected to visit the North with the shipment, but the ministry said they require no approval from it because they are all foreign nationals.
The previous administration also approved shipments of medicines by the foundation to the North but banned cargoes of building materials under 2010 sanctions for fear that they could be diverted to the military.
"The government will be flexible in reviewing applications for civilian exchanges so as to avoid weakening sanctions aimed at solving the North Korean nuclear issue," a ministry official said. "We took into consideration the fact that tuberculosis needs consistent treatment and that the medicines cannot be diverted for other purposes and their use can be monitored."
The Moon administration has approved a total of 47 applications to visit the North for humanitarian aid, but Pyongyang only accepted assistance from foreign organizations like Eugene Bell.
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