Seoul, Washington consider humanitarian aid for Pyongyang
Seoul, Aug 23 (EFE).- The nuclear envoys of South Korea and the United States discussed in Seoul on Monday the possibility of sending humanitarian aid to North Korea, a country in the midst of a serious economic crisis and with which they want to resume denuclearization talks.
“We discussed possible humanitarian assistance to the DPRK,” US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim told reporters.
“I reaffirmed US support for inter-Korean dialog and engagement as stipulated by the joint statement between our two leaders in May, and will continue to lend our support to inter-Korean humanitarian cooperation projects,” Kim added at the end of his meeting with South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk, according to Yonhap news agency.
There have been calls for the opening of channels to prevent sanctions on North Korea from blocking humanitarian aid to the country, while the United Nations has asked it to allow workers from its agencies to enter.
North Korea has kept its borders closed tightly since January 2020 to prevent the entry of Covid-19 into its territory.
This has prevented the entry and exit of goods – vital income, including from tourism and foreign investment – and also of diplomats and humanitarian workers due to replace colleagues whose periods of stay have ended.
In addition, torrential rains in the last two years have caused significant flood damage to infrastructure, as well as spoiling entire crops.
The meeting between Kim and Noh comes as Seoul and Washington hold their annual joint military exercises, something that has led the North Korean regime, which regards these exercises as a rehearsal to invade its territory, to once again suspend telephone communication with the South just two weeks after restarting it.
Sung Kim insisted that the exercises are routine and “purely defensive,” renewing the June offer to “meet with my North Korean counterparts anywhere, at anytime.”
The disarmament talks between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled since the failed Hanoi summit in February 2019.
Kim is also scheduled to meet with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Morgulov, who is also Moscow’s delegate on nuclear disarmament on the Korean Peninsula, in Seoul later Monday. EFE