Pyongyang rejects Seoul’s food aid

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Pyongyang rejects Seoul’s food aid

North Korea yesterday turned down the South’s offer of emergency relief aid to the flood-hit regime, reversing its recent response to accept the aid two days ago.

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“Yesterday we sent a message elaborating on the items and quantities to the North,” an official at the Ministry of Unification said, “However, this afternoon, the North sent a reply, saying, ‘We don’t need that kind of offer.’?” The South Korean government said in the message they would send 10,000 metric tons of flour, three million packs of instant noodles and medicine, adding that they could still negotiate with the North over other items.

“We feel sorry that the North rejected the offer,” the official said. “But we still keep offering other humanitarian aid, regardless of military or political affairs.” The Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik said on Friday at a parliamentary hearing that the government proposed to send aid to the North on Sept. 3. The North sent a reply on Monday through the inter-Korean Red Cross channel at the border village Panmunjom, saying they would accept the aid and asked which items the South would offer.

Last summer, the South Korean government tried to offer so-called “nutritional aid,” such as noodles, but the North didn’t respond. They demanded rice and cement. The South refused for fear that the aid would go directly to the communist military.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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