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Seoul's humanitarian aid won't resolve 'fundamental' problems: Pyongyang

All Headlines 13:49 May 26, 2019

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's moves to offer humanitarian aid are not the core actions needed to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, and instead, Seoul should take steps to resolve "fundamental" problems to improve inter-Korean relations, North Korea's media said Sunday.

The critical stance, carried in the latest edition of the North's propaganda weekly Tongil Sinbo, marks the country's first reaction to Seoul's decision to donate US$8 million to pregnant women and kids in North Korea via international aid agencies.

"Putting out such issues as humanitarian assistance and exchanges at the forefront, without regard to more fundamental issues, means (South Korea) intends to show off ... and to manipulate public opinion rather than improving inter-Korean relations," the weekly magazine said in an article.

The magazine accused South Korea of reversing its previous promises and continuing to pursue hostile acts against the North, such as "joint military exercises with foreign forces."

"Would secondary, trivial humanitarian support and non-political cooperation and exchange set things right?" the article said.

"(Seoul) should set out to put the fundamental issues proposed in the North-South declarations into faithful action," it also said.

Also on Sunday, the North's propaganda website Uriminzokkiri carried an article, saying "If the South Korean government hopes for sustainable development of inter-Korean relations ... it should clearly state its resolution and determination to faithfully implement inter-Korean declarations."

South Korea has recently launched discussions with international aid agencies, including UNICEF and the World Food Programme, to donate funds to North Korea to help pregnant women and malnourished children there.

Besides the donation plan, Seoul is also drawing up ways to provide humanitarian food aid to North Korea in the face of severe food shortages in the internationally sanctioned economy.

The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization recently reported, based on their visit to North Korea, that the country's crop output last year hit the lowest level since 2008, adding that an estimated 10 million people, or about 40 percent of its population, are in urgent need of food.

They also projected that the food situation in North Korea could deteriorate during the "lean season from May to September, if no proper and urgent humanitarian actions are taken."

pbr@yna.co.kr
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