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U.S., Japan, Britain reportedly opposed S. Korea's proposal to resume humanitarian aid to N. Korea

All Headlines 15:58 January 23, 2018

SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- The United States, Japan and Britain voiced their opposition to South Korea's proposal to resume humanitarian assistance to North Korea during a recent foreign ministerial meeting in Canada, Japanese media reported Tuesday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha proposed resuming humanitarian assistance to the North during the Vancouver meeting, which was attended by top diplomats from around 20 countries last week, saying that the Seoul government is mulling appropriate timing for the move.

The proposal, however, faced opposition from the foreign ministers of the three cited countries, who said it is premature, the Sankei Shimbun newspaper reported.

Citing multiple Japanese government sources, the newspaper said Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson expressed concerns that such a move could undercut the global sanctions regime against the North. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was said to have voiced strong opposition.

The report noted that there were also multiple countries that supported the idea.

South Korea's foreign ministry declined to elaborate on the matter, saying that it is not allowed to discuss talks that were held behind closed doors.

"It is not appropriate to comment on what was discussed during an undisclosed meeting," Noh Kyu-duk, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing. "Minister Kang explained our basic stance related to humanitarian assistance to North Korea."

The Seoul government decided in September to provide US$8 million in humanitarian aid to the North through global agencies such as the World Food Program. But it has not been delivered as the North has continued provocations.

With tensions showing signs of easing as the North prepares to join the Winter Olympics in the South next month, there are expectations that the government might push to offer aid to Pyongyang as a part of efforts to improve inter-Korean relations.

Meanwhile, Kang will be accompanied by her ministry staff involved in inter-Korean cooperation and cultural diplomacy when she attends the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, this week, according to officials.

A ministry official said they have been included to discuss the results of recent inter-Korean talks, adding that it has nothing to do with a plan to discuss the possible resumption of assistance to the North.


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