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Rice Aid to the North to be Discussed Next Month

Posted March. 03, 2007 03:24,   


The South Korean government said it would provide North Korea with 400,000-500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer aid at the 20th round of inter-Korean ministerial talks in Pyongyang on Friday. The South will ship 150,000 tons of fertilizer during the planting season to the North in March.

The South’s chief negotiator, Unification Minister Lee Jae-jeong, said after the final meeting, “We will provide rice and fertilizer aid annually like before. Spring is early this year. I think the timing may be moved up.”

South Korea has shipped 400,000-500.000 tons of rice in the form of loans, and 300,000 to 350,000 tons of fertilizer for free from 2002 to 2006.

However, the South and the North agreed in a joint press release that they would not pinpoint the amount and the timing of the aid shipment, and to hold a meeting of the inter-Korean economic cooperation promotion committee, which will decide the details of the rice shipment, in Pyongyang on April 18-21.

The rice and fertilizer aid will depend on whether the North shuts down its main nuclear reactor by April 13 as required by the February 13 six-party talks agreement.

The two Koreas will hold video reunions for families separated since the end of the Korean War on March 27 to 29 and face-to-face family reunion events will be held in early May. A family reunion center at the North’s Mount Geumgang resort will be resumed.

The two parties will also hold an inter-Korean Red Cross meeting at Mt. Geumgang on April 10-12 to discuss issues related to South Korean prisoners of war and those abducted by the North Korean agents. They also agreed on test-runs of two sets of cross-border railways that have been reconnected during the first half of this year in accordance with securing a military security guarantee.

Both sides agreed that they would participate in the national unification festival in the South and in Pyongyang on the occasion of the June 15 South-North joint declaration, and on Independence Day on August 15.

The next ministerial meeting will be held in Seoul from May 29 to June 1.