September 15, 2017 11:28
The Unification Ministry on Thursday said the government is eying a US$8 million humanitarian aid package for North Korea through international organizations.
Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun said the aid would consist of $4.5 million to help the World Food Programme provide nutritional support to North Korea's children and pregnant women and $3.5 million worth of medicine and vaccines through UNICEF.
A meeting on inter-Korean cooperation next Thursday is expected to finalize the decision.
The Park Geun-hye administration also gave aid to North Korea through international organizations but halted it after the North's fourth nuclear test in January 2016. The last time South Korea gave indirect aid to North Korea was $800,000 through the UN Population Fund in December 2015.
A Cheong Wa Dae official said the aid was part of Moon's policy of pursuing humanitarian assistance to North Korea separately from political concerns.
But the decision is awkwardly timed since it comes just two days after the UN Security Council unanimously agreed tougher sanctions against North Korea as the regime launched yet another missile over Japan early Friday morning.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga expressed dismay, saying that this is not the time to provide aid, but to increase pressure.
"A resolution that carries strict sanctions against the communist regime has been adopted unanimously at the UN Security Council meeting. It is important to keep away from actions that can weaken the international efforts," he said.
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