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100,000 Tons of Rice to Be Given to N.Korea
Korae Times
South Korea will provide 100,000 ton of rice to North Korea through the North’s land border for the first time since Seoul began the food assistance to its impoverished neighbor in 1995, the Unification Ministry said Tuesday.

The aid, one-fourth of the 400,000 tons of rice Seoul committed to loaning the North, will be sent to the North via routes through the eastern and western sections of the heavily fortified border, at a date to be fixed later, ministry officials said.

Seoul earlier informed Pyongyang of its plan to truck 20,000 tons of rice via the overland routes, but the North instead asked the South to send 100,000 tons in a telephone message last week, the officials said.

In the past, South Korea sent food aid to the North via ship.

In May, after initial rejections, the communist country opened its land border to accept South Korean school supplies and heavy construction equipment and materials to help rebuild the town of Ryongchon, devastated by a deadly train blast in April.

So far, the reclusive country has been reluctant to open its land border to aid shipments from rival South Korea as it could risk its people awakening from state propaganda that it is an earthly paradise and could expose its sensitive military facilities.

Of the 400,000 tons of rice, Seoul plans to purchase 300,000 tons abroad and then ship it to the North. The remaining 100,000 tons will be supplied from the government's rice holdings.

South Korea is one of the largest donors to North Korea, which has been relying on outside handouts since 1995 to help feed its 22 million people because its economy has been devastated by years of mismanagement and natural disasters.
MGR Archive 14.7.2004
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