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Opposition, Cabinet Nominees Urge Rice Aid for NK

Posted August. 24, 2010 07:59,   


Leaders of the ruling Grand National Party welcomed Monday the government’s official offer to resume rice aid to North Korea.

Party chief Ahn Sang-soo told The Dong-A Ilbo over the phone, “The government might have difficulty immediately resuming rice supply to North Korea due to its North Korea strategy, but it will be a matter of time in the end.”

Ahn officially proposed the resumption of aid at a meeting of nine key members of the ruling party, the government and the presidential office Sunday night.

In his confirmation hearing at the National Assembly Monday, Special Affairs Minister-designate Lee Jae-oh also said, “The government needs to consider sending rice aid to the North on humanitarian grounds.”

Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister-designate Yoo Jeong-bok also said, “Apart from the rice surplus problem in South Korea, the measure deserves consideration in light of the need for inter-Korean compromise and cooperation.”

Park Jie-won, floor leader and chief of the emergency measures committee of the main opposition Democratic Party, also welcomed the plan at a meeting. “The measure can help South Korea earn global respect on humanitarian grounds as well as help ease hardship faced by rice farmers in the South,” he said.

Lee Hoi-chang, the leader of the minor conservative Liberty Forward Party, said, “Humanitarian food aid is an exception to the principle of reciprocity in Seoul’s policy toward Pyongyang.”

Not so fast, said the Unification Ministry. Spokesman Chun Hae-sung told a news briefing Monday, “The government is neither considering nor has a plan to consider rice aid.”

surono@donga.com zeitung@donga.com