POSTED: 04:36 a.m. HST, Jul 25, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 05:28 a.m. HST, Jul 25, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea >> South Korea has approved shipments of flour to North Korea for the first time since a deadly artillery attack on a South Korean island last year, an official said Monday.
Seoul has provided small-scale humanitarian aid to North Korea despite the attack that killed four South Koreans last November. Flour, however, had been excluded over worries it could be used to feed the North's military.
Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said in a briefing that his government will allow two South Korean relief groups to deliver 400 tons of flour to a nursery, a children's hospital and a kindergarten in the North starting Tuesday.
The approval comes after the nuclear envoys of the Koreas met last week at a regional security forum in Indonesia and agreed to push for the resumption of stalled disarmament talks.
Chun said South Korea isn't considering a resumption of government-sponsored food aid to the North. The South had provided 300,000 to 400,000 tons of rice to its impoverished neighbor annually before their relations deteriorated in 2008.
South Korea says the North must make clear moves toward nuclear disarmament before it can consider resuming large-scale aid.
South Korea last sent flour aid to the North three days before the artillery attack took place across their tense Yellow Sea dividing line, Chun said.
He said the North has agreed to steps to guarantee the transparent distribution of flour aid.