(Regular Briefing by Minister)
Minister of Unification Lee Jae-joung gave a regular briefing on June 14 and explained several issues including the assessment of the inter-Korean relations and future plan, the significance of the Grand National Unification Festival, and giving food aid to the North through WFP, etc.
The Assessment of the Inter-Korean Relations and Future Plan
Minister Lee Jae-joung said 19 times of inter-Korean talks were held during the first half of this year and after the 21st Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks, several talks were held including head delegates' contact for working-level military talks, Inter-Korean working-level consultation meeting on light industries and natural resources development cooperation, and working-level contact for building Gaeseong Industrial Complex.
Minister Lee also said through the 21st Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks, the two Koreas could confirm each other's commitment to develop the inter-Korean relations continuously. He also emphasized the two Koreas should take this opportunity to improve their relations and play a pivotal role in bring about peace settlement on the Korean peninsula.
In addition, Minister Lee made clear that when the initial steps of the February 13 agreement are carried out, the government would make efforts to develop the inter-Korean relations into the wider and higher level.
Regarding the general plan for the development of North-South relations based on the Law on the Development of South-North Relations, Minister Lee said it would be fixed according to the procedures such as deliberation by related committee and reporting to a cabinet meeting and the president.
The Significance of the Grand National Unification Festival
Regarding the Grand National Unification Festival for seventh anniversary of June 15 Joint Declaration, Minister Lee said this year's event has significance in that it is held in the process of normalizing, regularizing, and institutionalizing the inter-Korean relations.
The consultation on the entire inter-Korean relations can be activated by promoting the inter-Korean exchange and cooperation in private sector in more active and systematic way.
Giving Food Aid to the North through the WFP
Minister Lee said the World Food Program made a formal request to the South Korean government on June 13 to give food aid - 24,000tons of corn, 12,000tons of bean, 5,000tons of wheat, 2,000tons of flour, and 1,000tons of powdered milk - to the North as soon as possible, considering the serious food shortage in it.
According to the Minister, the South Korean government gives a positive consideration to the issue, allowing for several points including the North's difficult food situation, repeated request by international organizations, the South Korean government's commitment in the international community, and domestic opinion about humanitarian support.
"I hope giving food aid to the North through the WFP will serve as an opportunity by which international organizations and community can actively participate in humanitarian support toward the North in the future," Minister Lee added.
Giving the Remaining Flood Aid
Minister Lee said the Republic of Korea National Red Cross (RKNC) communicated its intention to the government to give the remaining flood aid -- 10,500tons of rice -- to the North, considering its poor food condition. The aid had been suspended since the North's nuclear test on October 9, 2006. The South Korean government would accept the RKNC's request because it is the humanitarian support, the Minister added.