Sept. 14 (UPI) — South Korea is moving forward with a decision to supply as much as $8 million in humanitarian aid to the North — drawing a clear distinction between military tensions with Pyongyang and the need to engage the regime in ways that do not abet its nuclear weapons program.
Seoul’s foreign ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck told reporters at a regular press briefing on Thursday the decision to provide aid, which will most likely go to North Korean children and pregnant women, was made based on prior consultation with the United States and Japan, EDaily reported.
“We have been in close consultation with the United States, Japan, and other countries on the basic stance of the government regarding humanitarian assistance and overall North Korea policy,” Cho said, adding humanitarian aid to the North does not violate United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions.
“We will continue to pursue it independently of the political and military situation,” the South Korean spokesman said.
Calls for diplomacy have also not been ruled out in Washington, despite frequent statements from U.S. President Donald Trump suggesting military options against Pyongyang are becoming more realistic in light of North Korea’s continued provocations.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday diplomacy and talks are still on the table, because they can serve as tools to persuade North Korea to pursue denuclearization, Yonhap reported.
“Diplomacy, we will not give up on. That is still first and foremost, that is the preferred approach,” Nauert said.
Nauert also described the recent adoption of North Korea sanctions at the U.N. Security Council as a positive development.
“To have had a unanimous vote with China and also Russia supporting that…we feel that we’re in a strong position to keep pushing forward with what we call a peaceful pressure campaign,” Nauert said.