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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 7)

All Headlines 06:59 June 07, 2019

Timely aid for North Korea
Pyongyang unresponsive to Seoul's kind gestures

The government has decided to offer humanitarian aid to North Korea despite the sluggish progress in denuclearization talks with Pyongyang.

The Ministry of Unification approved earlier this week a plan to extend $8 million (about 9.4 billion won) worth of aid to the North through international agencies, including the World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF. The move came following reports that a significant portion of North Korea's population is suffering from food shortages.

Some South Koreans feel the government is being excessively generous given that North Korea has been unresponsive to some of the aid packages announced recently. Pyongyang has been silent about Seoul's offer to assist in its response to the outbreak of African swine fever at a farm in the northern part of North Korea.

Pyongyang has shown little interest in Seoul's continued offers of humanitarian assistance and has instead called for fundamental solutions to the deadlocked negotiations.

Despite some negative public opinion toward the government's decision, it is important to remember that humanitarian aid for the impoverished country must be carried out consistently, irrespective of political and security circumstances. The two Koreas must build on the reconciliatory mood established by the multiple meetings of their leaders last year and work closely together to create the right conditions for a much-anticipated inter-Korean summit this year.

Ever since the failed second summit between the U.S and North Korea in February, Pyongyang has continued to call for Washington to come to the negotiations table with "new conditions." Although things are not looking up, there is hope that U.S-North Korea talks could resume as U.S. President Donald Trump still seems to remain hopeful about another meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Trump has expressed his continued trust in Kim and has brushed off news reports that the North Korean leader may have seriously punished negotiators and officials who accompanied him to Vietnam for their second meeting.

Next week, the U.S. and North Korea will mark the first anniversary of their historic first summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018. During the first summit, Trump and Kim vaguely agreed on denuclearization, but the second summit collapsed without producing any agreement. Despite the summits between the two leaders as well as the inter-Korean summits, the world is still not convinced that Pyongyang is fully committed to denuclearization. North Korea's recent military activities justify such doubts.

Kim should recognize the sincerity of Seoul and the U.S. to work with Pyongyang for peace on the Korean Peninsula. Now is the time for Kim to show his willingness to return to the negotiation table with terms that are most conducive to shared goals for peace and co-prosperity.
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