S. Korea sends 203 tons of rice to flood-hit DPRK

13:23, September 17, 2010      

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South Korean civic activists and opposition politicians sent Friday 203 tons of rice to the flood- hit Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the first such aid approved since President Lee Myung-bak took office in February 2008.

The five-member delegation headed to the border town of Kaesong via a land route earlier in the day to deliver rice, which will then be sent to the DPRK's northwestern coastal city of Sinuiju, reportedly hit hardest by torrential rains and floods.

In a possible sign that the South Korean government is taking a step back from its earlier stance of restricting much of government and civilian aid, it approved shipments of civilian aid worth 2.2 billion won (1.8 million U.S. dollars). A day ago, other South Korean civic groups sent 530 tons of flour to the DPRK in flood aid.

Friday's rice aid coincides with working-level talks between the two Koreas currently underway in the border city of Kaesong. The talks are aimed at discussing holding reunion events for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War.

In a separate move, Seoul recently pledged rice and cement in flood aid to the DPRK through Seoul-based Red Cross, a main channel of humanitarian cooperation between the two Koreas.

Seoul has shied away from sending government-level aid to Pyongyang since May, after the Seoul-led team of investigators blamed Pyongyang for the March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship. The DPRK denies the charge.

While the government sticks to its stance that it will only allow aid for children and the vulnerable, a series of recent approvals for civilian aid might help diffuse remaining tension over the sinking, observers said.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张心意)

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