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S. Korea Promises Flood-Hit North $40 Million in Building Materials


South Korea has announced another aid package for North Korea following reports of serious flood damage there. After sending more immediately needed items like water and noodles, Seoul says it will now send heavy materials needed to rebuild the North's flooded infrastructure. VOA Correspondent Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.

South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung said Thursday the new aid package amounts to nearly $40 million worth of heavy construction implements. He says South Korean officials decided to send cement, iron bars, trucks, fuel, and road paving materials to the North at the soonest possible opportunity.

The announcement comes a day after South Korea transported about $7 million worth of emergency supplies across the border, such as blankets, drinking water, and easy-to-prepare foods.

International relief agencies say flooding damage in the North has caused a serious humanitarian crisis. The United Nations World Food Program says damage to agriculture could worsen North Korea's already severe food shortage. WFP representatives are distributing emergency food to hundreds of thousands of North Koreans made homeless by the floods.

North Korea cited flooding as its reason for postponing a summit with South Korea that would have taken place this week. The meeting is now set for the beginning of October.

Members of South Korea's main opposition party, the conservative GNP, have been critical of the timing of the summit, just two months before presidential elections.

Unification Minister Lee dismissed accusations of summit politics, saying the broader picture of North-South relations is more important. He says South Korea's goal is peace on the Korean peninsula, and economic cooperation is one of the best ways to achieve that goal, because it creates hope in the North.

Lee says the South Korean building materials should all be in place in North Korea by the end of next month.

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