South Korea said on Tuesday it will resume rice aid to North Korea, a day after Pyongyang said it would begin implementing a nuclear disarmament deal and allow a visit from U.N. nuclear inspectors.
South Korea suspended regular food aid after Pyongyang defied international warnings and test-fired a barrage of missiles in July 2006. The North’s first nuclear test about three months later further exacerbated tensions.
Seoul has said it was ready to provide North Korea with 400,000 tonnes of rice this year if Pyongyang made progress in a deal to scrap its nuclear arms programme in exchange for energy aid, security assurances and better diplomatic standing.
South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung told reporters that Seoul would resume rice shipments from June 30 and would try to complete them as quickly as possible.
“The implementation of the Feb. 13 deal was necessary for this,” he said.
The North has long struggled with chronic food shortages because of mismanagement of the farm sector and bad weather. It has relied on handouts from Seoul to feed its people.
Famine in the late 1990s killed as many as 10 percent of its 22 million population, relief agencies have said.
Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2007, 11:55