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North Korea Releases South Korean Boat, Requests Flood Aid

North Korea released a South Korean fishing boat and its seven-man crew Tuesday, after asking South Korea for a shipment of rice, cement and heavy equipment to help it recover from recent flooding.

Pyongyang announced on Monday that it would free the squid-fishing boat and its crew of four South Koreans and three Chinese seized a month ago for alleged illegal fishing. North Korea called the release a "humanitarian" gesture.

South Korean media said Tuesday that freeing the ship and its crew was a step toward receiving food aid.

The North's aid request came after Seoul offered last week to provide $8.5 million in emergency aid, including food, relief materials and first aid kits. That offer did not include rice or construction equipment and supplies.

The Unification Ministry said Tuesday that the South Korean government is reviewing the request.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.