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S. Korea to continue providing humanitarian aid to N. Korea

All Headlines 11:25 March 09, 2016

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea said Wednesday that it will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to North Korea despite its fresh sanctions aimed at punishing the North for its nuke and missile programs.

On Tuesday, Seoul unveiled a set of unilateral punitive actions against the North following tougher United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions over Pyongyang's latest nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

The Ministry of Unification said that there is no change in its principle that Seoul will continue to allow civic groups to offer humanitarian assistance to the underprivileged in North Korea.

"Despite the new sanctions, there is no change in the government's stance that Seoul will continue to offer humanitarian aid to North Koreans including infants and their mothers," Jeong Joon-hee, a ministry spokesman, said in a regular press briefing.

"But we will take a cautious approach in deciding the timing and size of the assistance by taking various factors into consideration," he added.

Seoul has put on hold state-backed massive assistance to North Korea following its 2010 sanctions designed to punish the North for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March of that year.

Instead, the government has permitted civic groups to provide aid to the North and has helped North Korean children and infants indirectly via international organizations.

But South Korea has suspended civilian inter-Korean exchanges or approval of South Koreans' visits to North Korea since Pyongyang's fourth nuke test on Jan. 6.

A U.N. report showed in April last year that about 70 percent of North Korea's 24.6 million people are suffering due to food shortages. It said 1.8 million, including children and pregnant women, are in need of nutritional food supplies aimed at fighting malnutrition.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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