ROK suspends aid until missle issue resolved

From the Joong Ang Daily:

Flows of aid to stop until crisis abates
South willing to meet North only on missiles, weapons
July 08, 2006

A senior government official said that Seoul would withhold promised aid to the North until the missile crisis is over. That decision did not include a delay in the provision of the last promised fertilizer shipment to North Korea, however; a ship left port yesterday bound for North Korea with the last 20,000 tons of that assistance.

Although the Unification Ministry said that it would not cancel the ministerial talks, which are to be held in Busan from Tuesday through Friday, there is no guarantee that they will actually be held. A former senior ministry official noted that Pyongyang could well boycott the talks themselves in a tit-for-tat response to Seoul’s rejection of working-level military talks it proposed two days before it launched seven missiles on Wednesday. In response to those launches, Korean conservatives have also publicly burned the North Korean flag, another sore point with Pyongyang.

The additional promised 100,000 tons of fertilizer and 500,000 tons of rice aid would not be sent to the North. “We made public what we want to address at this meeting so that the North will hear it,” he said. Echoing the former official’s comments, he added, “It is difficult to say whether the North will actually come.”

While Seoul was pondering how to respond to the missile launches, Pyongyang warned against retaliatory sanctions. Kyodo News Agency reported yesterday that Song Il-ho, the North’s representative for normalization talks with Japan, demanded that Japanese sanctions imposed after the missile tests be lifted. From Yonhap:

North Korea warned on Saturday that Japan could face “stronger physical measures” after it banned a Pyongyang ferry from entering its ports for six months in response to the communist state test-firing seven missiles last week.

Song Il-ho, North Korea’s ambassador in charge of normalizing diplomatic ties with Japan, told a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan that, “If anyone tries to put us under pressure, we will have no choice but to take stronger physical measures.”

Regarding the sudden ban on the North Korean ferry Mangyeongbong 92, he said, “Such (an) anti-humanitarian measure is causing a significant anti-Japanese sentiment among our people,” Song was quoted as saying by the Chosun Sinbo.


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