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S. Korea offers 200,000 tons of fertilizer to North

Posted April. 19, 2001 12:42,   


It was learned Wednesday that the South Korean government will ship 200,000 tons of fertilizer to North Korea in early May. It will be provided free of charge on humanitarian grounds.

Unification Minister Lim Dong-Won explained during his visit to opposition Grand National Party leader Lee Hoi-Chang that North Korea needs the fertilizer during the rice-planting season in May. He added that North Korea request an aid through international organizations. ``The government asked for the GNP`s help in offering 200,000 tons of fertilizer worth about 66 billion won to North Korea,`` party spokesman Kwon Chul-Hyun said.

Lim said that the fertilizer aid to North Korea was not unconditional aid, hinting that it is aimed at finding a breakthrough in the relations between South and North Korea.

He also noted that profitability would be a key question in continuing Hyundai`s cruise service to Mt. Kumgang.

``The government ordered Hyundai to renegotiate the price with North Korea and recommended to improve its profitability by paying certain amount per tourist instead of paying a lump sum,`` he stressed.

As for North Korean leader Kim Jung-Il`s projected trip to South Korea, Lim said that his visit to Seoul might be delayed a bit, although the Seoul government invited him to visit in April or May.

Regarding the free fertilizer for North Korea, Lee showed a negative response, saying that it would be painful for the nation because the aid to North Korea will have to be squeezed from tax revenues.

Kim Young-Sik spear@donga.com