The South Korean government has called for humanitarian aid for North Korea even as the country alarmed the international community by restarting its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon.

Lee In-young /Newsis

In an opening speech at a forum in Seoul on Tuesday, Unification Minister Lee In-young said, “There is now international consensus that we need to seek ways to resolve North Korea’s difficulties as early as possible despite international sanctions.”

Seoul “hopes that the two Koreas can restart dialogue on the path of humanitarian cooperation to protect each other’s life and safety and create a healthier community together,” he added.

Meanwhile the chief South Korean nuclear negotiator met his U.S. counterpart in Washington on Monday and also tried to persuade him of the need for humanitarian support for the North.

Noh Kyu-duk said, “South Korea and the U.S. have already discussed what both can do with regard to humanitarian support for the North.”

But his U.S. counterpart Sung Kim only said that the U.S. and South Korea reaffirmed their commitment to seeking the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through diplomatic efforts. He added Washington is looking forward to hearing a response from Pyongyang.

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