SEOUL, July 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is considering resuming its humanitarian assistance to North Korea via international organizations as Seoul seeks to spur civilian inter-Korean exchanges, a government official said Monday.
South Korea has suspended its aid to the vulnerable in North Korea through U.N. agencies since the North's nuclear and missile tests in 2016.
But President Moon Jae-in said at the Group of 20 summit last week that humanitarian assistance in the welfare and medical sectors should not be linked to political situations, raising the issue of malnutrition of North Korean infants.
South Korea's unification ministry said that international organizations -- the U.N. International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program -- have asked the government to resume its support.
"We have halted aid provisions (via international organizations) since North Korea's 2016 nuclear and missile tests, but we are considering the resumption on the condition of (guaranteeing) transparency (of aid supply) and monitoring," Lee Duk-haeng, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.
He said that the ministry sees the need to consistently provide nutritional support and vaccines to North Korean infants and pregnant women.
"We will also consider allowing civilian groups to provide aid, along with help via international organizations," Lee said.
Seoul has allowed civilian groups to provide aid to North Korea since Moon took office in May.
But North Korea has turned down South Korean civic groups' moves to resume exchanges, in protest against Seoul's support of the latest U.N. sanctions against the North.
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