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U.S. cuts off subsidies to anti-N. Korea groups in S. Korea

All Headlines 17:33 April 17, 2013

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- The United States has virtually stopped funding anti-North Korean civic groups in South Korea due to its financial downturn, sources here said Wednesday.

Organizations such as the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS) and the North Korea Reform Radio said in a seminar in Seoul that Washington's financial assistance for groups that support liberty and human rights has all but dried up this year.

"At its peak, the U.S. provided US$5 million in support annually, but the general lack of similar support from the Seoul government may have played a role in the latest cutbacks," said NKIS executive director Kim Heung-kwang.

He also speculated that current economic troubles in the U.S. and the implementation of across-the-board budget cuts are affecting overseas financial support.

Kim Seung-chul, head of the radio station, said that his organization had relied on assistance from the National Endowment for Democracy, which is controlled by the U.S. State Department.

"With the drying up of subsidies from other U.S. sources, there is a pressing need for the Seoul government to take action," he said.

Meanwhile, progressive groups called on both Koreas during the seminar to sign a permanent peace accord to replace the Armistice Agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War.

Members of a committee dedicated to pushing forward the spirit of the 2000 landmark agreement reached on June 15 between by late South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, said now is the time to strive for peace and coexistence on the Korean Peninsula.

"Even after 60 years since the conflict stopped, no peace agreement has been reached, so it is about time that the issue is resolved once and for all," a speaker said at the gathering.

The speaker said the United Nations, the two Koreas, the United States and China need to get together and push for a peace treaty.

Members of these organizations also said non-proliferation should be handled at the six-party talks, with all sides needing to refrain from making inflammatory remarks or attacking the other side. Every measure should be taken to normalize operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, which has been put on hold for a week, they said.

Other progressive groups like the Pan-National Alliance for Reunification of the Fatherland called on the government to halt joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises and the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Korean Peninsula.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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