DPRK

Seoul OKs W240 Billion for N.Korea

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Although Pyongyang has yet to implement a Feb. 13 six-nation denuclearization agreement, Seoul has endorsed spending of W240 billion (US$1=W924) needed to send rice and light industry raw materials to the North. The money, which is to come from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund, will be spent on 400,000 tons of rice and materials worth W74 billion. The endorsement came at a meeting of a committee chaired by Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung.

In addition, the government approved W2 billion to finance the operation of an inter-Korean cooperation support committee to be launched this month.

A Unification Ministry official said despite North Korea's refusal to shut down its nuclear facilities under the February accord, the government endorsed the spending because the money is needed to buy rice in advance so the food aid can be sent late this month. The official said the government will buy only 5,000 tons of rice first, since the shipment will not leave if the North fails to implement the agreement by late May.

The government already wasted W3.6 billion from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund on storing and renting an oil tanker to transport 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to the North in expectation of Pyongyang shutting down its nuclear facilities by the original deadline on April 13.