South Korea Sending Fertilizer To North Korea

Friday, March 16th 2007, 7:33 am

By: News On 6

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ South Korea will begin sending fertilizer to North Korea later this month, a Red Cross official said Friday, resuming aid even before the impoverished nation is required to shut down its nuclear reactor under an international agreement.

The shipment, set to start March 27, will mark the resumption of the South's official aid to North Korea that has been suspended since July when North Korea tested a series of missiles. Aid was kept on hold in the wake of the North's October nuclear test, but an agreement last month for Pyongyang to take initial steps to dismantle its atomic programs has revived ties between the Koreas.

Last week, North Korea requested for 300,000 tons of fertilizer.

South Korean officials have previously indicated they would accept the North's request, but the date for the shipment had not been made clear.

Han Wan-sang, head of the South's Korean National Red Cross, was the first South Korean official to specify a date.

Despite the fertilizer aid, South Korea plans to hold off on resuming rice shipments until after mid-April to make sure North Korea carries out its promise to shut down its main nuclear reactor under the disarmament deal.

South Korea has sent 2.25 million tons of fertilizer and 2.29 million tons of rice to the North since the mid-1990s.

North-South ties markedly improved after Pyongyang's disarmament pledge last month, leading the Koreas to resume high-level talks.

Under the landmark Feb. 13 disarmament agreement between North Korea, the United States and other regional powers, Pyongyang has pledged to shut down its main nuclear reactor and processing facility and allow in U.N. inspectors for verification by April 14.

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