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(LEAD) Cheong Wa Dae seeks to provide N. Korea food aid despite missile firings

All News 10:50 May 17, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with additional remarks on NK missile, special envoy issue, other details)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, May 17 (Yonhap) -- A top South Korean presidential official said Friday that Seoul would press ahead with food aid for North Korea despite its recent missile launches.

Chung Eui-yong, head of the presidential National Security Office, stressed that the humanitarian issue should be separated from such a security issue.

He said the government has already decided on the food assistance and it's making "various preparations" for specific measures.

"I think the food issue should be reviewed, irrespective of the security issue, from the humanitarian aspect, especially as the same compatriots," he told reporters. Korea was split into two after the liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonization.

The government will soon make public detailed plans for the food assistance, he added.

On the missiles North Korea recently fired, Chung said South Korea and the United States are still analyzing whether they are ballistic missiles or not.

He was responding to a news report that the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has "provisionally" concluded that the rockets fired on May 4 and 9 were new short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs).

Chung played down the report, saying it does not reflect the USFK's official position.

Asked about the possibility of South Korea sending a special envoy to North Korea to lay the groundwork for another bilateral summit, he avoided a direct answer. He just said it's being "reviewed all the time."


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