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North Korea refuses aid offer from South Korea

North Korea refused an offer of humanitarian aid from South Korea, dimming hopes that tensions between the rivals could ease.

North korea aid south korea september 12 2012Enlarge
Anti-Pyongyang activists, including North Korean defectors in Seoul, float giant balloons carrying leaflets criticising North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un from Imjingak park near the North-South border in Paju on September 9, 2012. (KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korea rejected South Korea's offer of humanitarian aid on Wednesday, dimming hopes that tensions between the two rivals would ease, The New York Times reported.

According to The Times, South Korea made the offer on September 3. On Monday, North Korea said it was willing to discuss the matter and asked the South what it was planning to provide.

The South sent a letter on Tuesday, saying it would deliver 10,000 tons of flour, three million packets of instant noodles and medicine, according to The Times.

According to an official at the South Korean Unification Ministry, the North rejected the offer, saying, "That type of support is not needed," Reuters reported.

"It’s deeply regrettable that the North Korean government is rejecting our offer to help the North Korean people," said the ministry, according to The Times.

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CNN noted that the impoverished dictatorship was hit by Tropical Storm Bolaven in August, which left thousands homeless and killed nearly 50 people. Even before the storm, heavy rains in July caused widespread flooding, which claimed the lives of at least 169 people, according to state-run North Korean news agency KCNA.

According to South Korea's assessment, the North's crop production will probably drop more than 10 percent due to a season of floods and drought, said Reuters. Last month, the UN World Food Program said it would send emergency food aid to North Korea.

Last year, South Korea rescinded its offer for aid after the North asked for equipment and building materials instead of food and medicine.

Reuters noted that North Korea has a record of backing out of international agreements.

Relations between the North and South remain tense, as Pyongyang continues to threaten to attack South Korea over perceived insults, the Associated Press noted. Meanwhile, two-thirds of the North's population of 24 million is struggling with chronic food shortages.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/120912/north-korea-refuses-aid-offer-south-korea