Seoul says N. Korea rejected its offer of flood aid
Seoul, South Korea • North Korea rejected South Korea's offer of food and medical supplies to help flood victims Wednesday, Seoul said.
After Pyongyang asked what aid items the South could send, Seoul on Tuesday proposed providing 10,000 tons of flour, 3 million packages of ramen noodles and medical supplies.
On Wednesday, North Korea's Red Cross sent a message expressing its dissatisfaction with the assistance offered and saying it doesn't need "such aid," Seoul's Unification Ministry said in a statement.
The North's rejection is "very regrettable," the statement said.
An offer made after floods last year also was rejected by the North after Seoul refused to meet its demand to ship cement and heavy equipment, which could be used for military purposes, according to South Korean officials.
Ties between the divided Koreas remain strained following two deadly attacks blamed on North Korea that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010. Pyongyang has also repeatedly threatened to attack South Korea over perceived insults.
Floods since June have killed more than 170 people, submerged vast swaths of farmland and destroyed thousands of homes, according to Pyongyang's state media. A recent typhoon also killed 48 people and left about 21,000 others homeless, state media said.
Recent state media dispatches said North Korea has mobilized soldiers for recovery works at flood-hit mine areas in Komdok, Ryongyang and Taehung. Premier Choe Yong Rim also visited one of the areas to see its recovery efforts, the official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday.
The North was experiencing protracted drought earlier this year, raising concerns about the effect the severe weather will have on the country's farms. In June, the United Nations said two-thirds of the country's 24 million people were grappling with chronic food shortages.