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Financial support to NGOs for anti-virus cooperation possible if N. Korea agrees: official

All Headlines 15:07 March 24, 2020

SEOUL, March 24 (Yonhap) -- Local non-government organizations can receive government financial support for coronavirus-related North Korea aid projects if they have an agreement with Pyongyang, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.

The remark came amid hopes for resuming aid projects in North Korea after U.S. President Donald Trump expressed an intention to help with Pyongyang's fight against the coronavirus in a recent personal letter to leader Kim Jong-un.

"We have established regulations on humanitarian assistance to North Korea and cooperation projects to support the fund reasonably and efficiently and are implementing it accordingly," the official told reporters.

The official laid out the requirements for receiving funding from the ministry, saying that the nongovernmental organization has to sign an agreement with North Korea and be prepared with resources, specific supplies and plans to deliver the supplies.

"Currently, nongovernmental organizations have inquired about the issue but it has not progressed to the level of meeting any specific requirements," the official said.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed infections, but observers say that the communist state might be covering up an outbreak and in dire need of outside help to contain the spread of the highly contagious disease.

South Korea has been seeking to cooperate with the North to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, but Pyongyang has not responded to any offers for cooperation and exchange as inter-Korean relations have remained chilled amid stalemated denuclearization talks.

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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