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Summary of inter-Korean news this week

16:00 March 27, 2020

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of inter-Korean news this week.

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Ministry emphasizes inter-Korean anti-virus cooperation following Trump's offer to help N. Korea

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- South and North Korea should work together in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus from the perspective of "humanitarian" and "mutually beneficial" cooperation, Seoul's unification ministry said Monday.

The emphasis on cross-border cooperation came a day after North Korea announced that U.S. President Donald Trump expressed an intention to help its fight against the coronavirus in a personal letter to leader Kim Jong-un.

"Our government's stance remains unchanged that cooperation between the South and the North is necessary from the perspective of humanitarian and mutually beneficial cooperation that is closely related to the right to health and survival of the people of both countries," Cho Hey-sil, the ministry's deputy spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

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Financial support to NGOs for anti-virus cooperation possible if N. Korea agrees: official

SEOUL, March 24 (Yonhap) -- Local non-government organizations can receive government financial support for coronavirus-related North Korea aid projects if they have an agreement with Pyongyang, a unification ministry official said Tuesday.

The remark came amid hopes for resuming aid projects in North Korea after U.S. President Donald Trump expressed an intention to help with Pyongyang's fight against the coronavirus in a recent personal letter to leader Kim Jong-un.

"We have established regulations on humanitarian assistance to North Korea and cooperation projects to support the fund reasonably and efficiently and are implementing it accordingly," the official told reporters.

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Defense chief calls for tighter naval defense on 10th anniversary of N.K.'s sinking of warship

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo called for tighter defense of the sea border with North Korea on Thursday, the 10th anniversary of the communist nation's deadly sinking of the South's warship Cheonan.

The Cheonan went down near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, on March 26, 2010, killing 46 sailors. After an international probe, the South concluded the sinking was caused by a torpedo attack by a North Korean submarine.

"We should protect the NLL all the more tightly to make sure past sorrows such as the Cheonan attack never are repeated, and establish North Korea's denuclearization and the Korean Peninsula's lasting peace," the minister said during a memorial ceremony at the Navy's 2nd Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

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Gyeonggi Province's coronavirus-related aid project to N.K. halted: official

SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) -- A coronavirus-related aid project to North Korea planned independently by the Gyeonggi Province government was suspended, as it failed to meet the requirements necessary for government approval, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

Local media outlets reported earlier that the Gyeonggi provincial government approved a motion last month to provide North Korea with medical supplies, such as masks and test kits, worth 1.2 billion Korean won (US$980,000) to help with Pyongyang's preventive efforts against the COVID-19 virus.

"The project has not proceeded any further because it failed to meet the requirements," the official said. "Problems arise with shipment approval unless the necessary requirements are fulfilled, such as an agreement with North Korea, financing and transport plans and transparency measures."
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