S. Korea: Situation must improve for aid to resume

July 20, 2006 05:22

South Korea's top official on dealings with North Korea said Thursday that aid to the communist country suspended after its recent missile launches wouldn't be resumed unless the current tense situation on the peninsula improves. Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok also said it was "very regrettable" that the North has suspended family reunions of relatives split by the heavily fortified Korean border. The North said Wednesday it would halt the reunions after the South refused to discuss aid at recent high-level talks, saying that Seoul was being pressured by "outsiders", an apparent allusion to UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang. But Lee said Thursday that "South Korea's decision to suspend aid is not to join sanctions, but it was an independent judgment as North Korea aggravated the situation by not taking into account South Korea's concerns and position."

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