May 09, 2019 09:54
The government is looking into possibility of providing food aid to North Korea despite the North's firing of a short-range missile last weekend.
"I will make an announcement after considering the matter comprehensively," Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul told reporters Wednesday.
The comments came just a day after Cheong Wa Dae said President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump discussed the issue in a telephone call on Tuesday.
Speaking after a visit to the inter-Korean liaison office in the North Korea's border town of Kaesong, Kim said, "I will look into what specific roles the ministry should play" in providing food aid.
It was Kim's first trip to the communist state since taking office last month. The Foreign Ministry is to discuss the issue with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun, who is currently in Seoul.
The U.S. feels that humanitarian aid is possible in principle but wants to approach the matter cautiously. A U.S. State Department spokesperson said recently that it does not want to block justified humanitarian aid to the North, but added that the communist state is responsible for the food shortage.
This difference in policy between South Korea and the U.S. was apparent in the press releases issued by the two sides after the telephone call between Moon and Trump.
Cheong Wa Dae claimed Trump "said humanitarian food aid to North Korea by [South] Korea is timely and will be a positive move." But the White House said simply the two leaders discussed "recent developments" in North Korea and "how to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization" of the country, without mentioning food aid.
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