Seoul to offer medical assistance


The head of South Korea’s National Red Cross is to visit North Korean capital Pyongyang later this month to discuss enhancing medical cooperation between the divided Koreas, Red Cross officials said Thursday.

Red Cross President Han Wan-sang is to be accompanied by 40 officials including hospital heads and 13 officials from the Korean Hospital Association, on his five-day trip to the communist state from May 26, the officials said.

“President Han is scheduled to meet with officials from the North Korean Red Cross, including its Chairman Chang Jae-on, to hold negotiations on ways to develop and increase cooperation and exchanges between South and North Korea,” the Red Cross said in a statement.

Accompanied by heads and officials from other humanitarian organizations and 12 pharmaceutical companies, the Red Cross chief will deliver over 3.7 billion won (US$3.9 million) worth of medical supplies and equipment to the impoverished North, the statement said.

The 41-member delegation will fly directly to the North Korean capital, according to the Red Cross officials.

Red Cross officials from the two Koreas occasionally hold talks to resolve humanitarian issues between the divided countries, such as the tens of thousands of people who remain separated from their family members since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

The sides are scheduled to meet to arrange upcoming rounds of reunions between the separated families in June and August.

The South Korean Red Cross provides large amounts of fertilizer and food aid to the North in addition to its annual medical and technical support for the impoverished country, which has depended on outside handouts to feed a large number of its people since the mid 1990s.


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