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S. Korea authorizes two rounds of humanitarian aid to N. Korea via NGOs Updated: 2021-07-30 17:02:56 KST

Seoul's unification ministry on Friday authorized the sending of two rounds of humanitarian aid to Pyeongyang provided by non-governmental organizations.
This followed a press conference by the unification minister earlier in the day where he laid out plans to further revive inter-Korean talks.

"There have been continuous requests from non-profit organizations. The decision comes in consideration of the North's situation, including its urgent need for health and nutritional products."

Aid had been suspended for ten months following the killing of a South Korean government official by North Korea on the West Sea border last September.
There are no details yet on the timing or types of aid to be sent, but it's highly likely, experts say, that Pyeongyang will accept the aid.

"One of the reasons for restoring communication channels with the South is to reopen humanitarian support on the non-governmental level, so it's highly likely that the regime will accept the aid."

The North may also believe that humanitarian aid would help move inter-Korean relations forward, especially in the prolonged pandemic.
In fact, the North last year saw its worst economic growth in 23 years since it went through a famine in the mid-nineties amid an economic crisis.
According to a high-ranking ministry official, there are also signs of the North resuming trade with China by sea, which could be a way for the regime to get aid from the South too.
Also, Minister Lee said Seoul suggested to Pyeongyang on Thursday that they discuss ways to set up a virtual conference system for talks, a suggestion the North has acknowledged.
The ministry is currently drafting a list of nearly 30 agenda items on which to consult with the North, including the provision of vaccines and the North's destruction last year of the inter-Korean liaison office.
Regarding the South Korea-U.S. joint military drills set for mid-August, the ministry official said the drills will need to be delayed, pointing to the worsening virus situation and saying it's an appropriate time to work with Washington to engage with the North.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.
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