North Korea food aid has nothing to do with security: NSO chief

20-May-2019 Intellasia | Korea Times | 6:00 AM Print This Post

South Korea will stick to its plan to provide food aid to North Korea, as this should be seen from a humanitarian perspective regardless of the country’s recent provocations, National Security Office (NSO) chief Chung Eui-yong said Friday.

“The issue of providing food aid to North Korea should be reviewed from the viewpoint of compatriots without regard to national security,” Chung told reporters at Cheong Wa Dae

The Ministry of Unification said it plans to provide $8 million in food aid in partnership with international relief organizations, such as the World Food Programme and the United Nations Children’s Fund.

This comes amid skepticism toward the aid plan after a series of short-range missile and “unidentified projectile” tests this month.

Some media outlets reported Friday the United States Forces Korea (USFK) concluded these were short-range ballistic missile launches.

Chung, however, denied the report, saying that this was not the official stance of the USFK.

“South Korea and the U.S. are still analyzing the details of what the projectiles were, and this is the official position of the allies,” Chun said.

Pyongyang’s recent moves were in sharp contrast to those from last year when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took part in a series of summits to discuss peace on the Korean Peninsula.

In line with Kim’s pledge for the complete denuclearization of the peninsula, the North did not conduct any missile tests or military provocations last year.

But with the much-anticipated Hanoi summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim ending in failure, Pyongyang has since declined to hold any nuclear talks with Washington. Instead, the North has demanded the U.S. change its attitude before it will hold additional talks.

Even though the nuclear deadlock has lasted for months since the summit breakdown, neither side is showing signs of making any concessions.

The unification ministry has also decided to allow South Korean businesspeople, who invested in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC) in North Korea, to visit the site to review the maintenance requirements of their facilities there.

South Korean companies were forced to stop operating their businesses there in February 2016 amid worsening inter-Korean relations.

The ministry said it approved of their visit to the now-closed factory park, citing the need to protect property rights.

But it still remains to be seen whether they will actually be able to visit the GIC, as the North has to give its permission.

Fourth inter-Korean summit

Chung also said the South is leaving open the possibility of holding a fourth inter-Korean summit and sending a special envoy to the North to fine-tune details for this.

“The government is always ready to dispatch a special envoy to the North,” he said without elaborating further.

President Moon Jae-in had three summits with the North’s young dictator last year and reached a series of agreements on “disarmament” in the border area and easing military tension.

The most recent of the series of summits was held in September in Pyongyang, and lasted for three days. The inter-Korean reconciliatory mood reached a peak during this meeting when Kim agreed to visit Seoul for a fourth summit “at an early date.”

Starting with the breakdown of the Hanoi summit, however, the reconciliation has begun to wane. In an outward show of discontent, the North has in recent months stepped up its criticism of the South for siding with the U.S. in the handling of inter-Korean affairs.

Meanwhile, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Chung’s counterpart in Washington, called North Korea a “pressing challenge.” The remark indicates Washington views the handling of the ongoing nuclear stalemate with Pyongyang as a very complex task.


Category: Korea

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