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S. Korea considering allowing civilian aid to N. Korea amid increasing signs of border easing: official

All News 13:40 April 01, 2021

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- The government is considering allowing local aid groups to resume assistance to North Korea as the country is showing increasing signs of easing its border restrictions with China, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

"The possibility of the North Korea-China border restrictions easing has been constantly observed, and it is rather increasing," the official said.

"We plan to make a conclusion in the direction of allowing nongovernmental organizations to resume humanitarian assistance to the North as we have received requests from aid groups on resuming assistance and have seen increasing signs of change in the North Korea-China border," she added.

The ministry, however, is still "keeping an eye" on the situation considering that such signs may not necessarily lead to an actual easing of border controls, the official said.

North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has maintained tight border controls since early last year to ward off an outbreak of the highly contagious disease on its soil.

Pyongyang has repeatedly rejected offers for help from South Korea amid chilled inter-Korean relations. Leader Kim Jong-un earlier urged his officials not to receive outside help on worries about the spread of the coronavirus into his country.

The unification ministry has stressed that the humanitarian assistance issue should be addressed independent of political and military situations.

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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