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S. Korea renews calls for inter-Korean cooperation on coronavirus

All Headlines 13:49 March 20, 2020

SEOUL, March 20 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea should work together to tackle infectious diseases as the issue is directly linked to health and survival of people on both sides, the unification ministry said Friday amid the global outbreak of the new coronavirus.

South Korea has repeatedly expressed its willingness to cooperate with the North in dealing with the coronavirus, but Pyongyang has given no response. The North has claimed through state media that the virus has not spread into the country.

"Inter-cooperation on infectious diseases is necessary as it is a humanitarian and mutually beneficial issue linked directly to the health and the right to survival of both South and North Koreans," Cho Hey-sil, the ministry's deputy spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

But Cho said there has been no request for cooperation from the North yet.

Earlier in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington has offered humanitarian assistance to North Korea in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"As for Iran, the same is true for North Korea, these are countries that we have deep differences with, and we are working diligently to create better conditions for their people," Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.

"And part of that is to make sure that we're available to provide humanitarian assistance when we can. And so we have offered to both the North Koreans, as well as to the Iranian people, humanitarian assistance, and we've offered to facilitate humanitarian assistance coming into those countries from U.N. organizations, from other countries as well," he said.

Pompeo added: "We'll keep doing that. It's the right thing to do in a time of crisis."

Ministry of Unification deputy spokesperson Cho Hey-sil (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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