SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Korea Bizwire) — President Moon Jae-in suggested Friday that South Korea could go ahead with humanitarian aid to North Korea in a thinly veiled rejection of a call for caution by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe asked Moon to consider the timing of the proposed aid during their phone conversation, but Moon said aid is “an issue that should be dealt with regardless of political situations,” presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said.
Moon said monitoring is a precondition to the aid in an apparent attempt to ensure that the aid reaches its intended beneficiaries in North Korea.
South Korea is set to decide next Thursday whether to approve the aid to infants and pregnant women in North Korea.
On Thursday, South Korea said that it is considering providing US$8 million in aid to North Korea via the World Food Program and the U.N. International Children’s Emergency Fund.
The two agencies have asked Seoul to resume its financial support. South Korea suspended its aid to North Korea through U.N. agencies after the North’s nuclear and missile tests in 2016.
Some critics questioned the timing of Seoul’s announcement as it came just days after the U.N. Security Council imposed its toughest-ever sanctions on North Korea to punish the country for its sixth nuclear test.
The humanitarian aid, if approved, would be the first since liberal leader Moon took office in May. Moon had sought dialogue with North Korea, but he ruled out the possibility of dialogue with North Korea as he condemned North Korea’s missile launch on Friday.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan again earlier in the day in defiance of the U.N. sanctions.
“Dialogue is impossible in a situation like this,” Moon said during a National Security Council meeting he presided over after the North’s missile launch.
“International sanctions and pressure will further tighten to force North Korea to choose no other option but to step forward on the path to genuine dialogue.”
During the phone conversation, Moon and Abe agreed to take stern and effective measures to induce North Korea to change its behavior, said Park.