Posted March. 28, 2005 23:00,
The government has asked the North Korean regime for accurate information on the alleged bird flu outbreak in the North and decided to provide quarantine support if the North asks for help.
The decision came from a director-level meeting of officials from the ministries of Unification, Agriculture and Forestry, and Health and Welfare, the National Intelligence Service, and the National Security Council, presided over by Vice Unification Minister Rhee Bong-jo, at the Central Government Complex, Jongno, Seoul, on Monday.
Quarantine Support for North Korea is for South Koreas Self-Defense-
Vice Minister Lee said Monday, The central part of the governments measures is preventing the disease from entering South Korea and reinforcing the domestic quarantine system.
Lee added that since trade between the two Koreas has become active, it is vital that we halt the spread of the disease in North Korea. To do so, the South Korean government will make concerted efforts with the World Health Organization and the rest of the international community.
Lee also said, The situation is different from the explosion in Ryongchun last April, when our government provided support before the North asked for help. This time, we can provide needed help only when we are provided with accurate information.
The government started taking prevention measures starting from March 12. Immigration officers of the Kyung-Ui line and the east coast road have conducted and are currently conducting detection tests on inter-Korean tourists and the crews and vehicles of the Gaesung Industrial Complex with heat detectors and disinfection equipment.
The government intends to maintain its indefinite embargo on North Korean poultry until bird flu is completely eradicated in the North.
Prospects for Inter-Korean Talks-
Although the South Korean government plans to ask the North for accurate information on its bird flu status through contact agents at the Panmunjom, the Joint Security Area shared by the two nations, the possibility of a talk between North and South Korea is slim.
However, the government is not ruling out the possibility of a working-level contact with the North, on the premise that the North provides accurate information and asks for help.
The government thinks that should it take place, the inter-Korean discussion on bird flu could lead to a discussion on the Norths fertilizer needs.
Dialogue between North and South Korea is at a standoff, along with the long-stalled six-party talks to resolve North Koreas nuclear issue.
The earliest starting point for South Koreas fertilizer support for the North to take place was April 16, with the support coming to a close near late June. Considering such past timelines, the South Korean government believes there is enough time to sit with the North and discuss the fertilizer support.