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S. Korea to allow rare civilian visit to N. Korea amid tension

All Headlines 11:39 August 13, 2010

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will allow a doctor to travel to North Korea next week in the first approval of a civilian visit on a humanitarian mission to the communist state since Seoul banned exchanges with Pyongyang in May over the sinking of a South Korean warship, an official said Friday.

The doctor, accompanied by two drivers, will visit the North Korean border town of Kaesong next Tuesday, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters in a briefing. The group is transporting 400 million won (US$336,100) worth of anti-malaria aid from a civilian relief group, Chun said.

"The doctor's visit has been granted because he needs to explain to the North how to use the aid kits," he said, adding any spread of malaria in the North has the potential to affect South Korean residents south of the border.

South Korea has only allowed a handful of infant-related humanitarian shipments to the North since a multinational probe found Pyongyang responsible for the March sinking of its warship.

Forty-six South Korean sailors died in the sinking that North Korea denies any connection to. Tension runs high between the divided countries as North Korea has threatened war in response to South Korean military drills held in protest of the Yellow Sea sinking.


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