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Gyeonggi Province's coronavirus-related aid project to N. Korea halted: official


A coronavirus-related aid project to North Korea planned independently by the Gyeonggi Province government was suspended, as it failed to meet the requirements necessary for government approval, a unification ministry official said Thursday.

Local media outlets reported earlier that the Gyeonggi provincial government approved a motion last month to provide North Korea with medical supplies, such as masks and test kits, worth 1.2 billion Korean won ($980,000) to help with Pyongyang's preventive efforts against the COVID-19 virus.

"The project has not proceeded any further because it failed to meet the requirements," the official said. "Problems arise with shipment approval unless the necessary requirements are fulfilled, such as an agreement with North Korea, financing and transport plans and transparency measures."

But the official did not reveal the specific requirements Gyeonggi Province failed to satisfy.

North Korea has not reported any confirmed COVID-19 infections, but observers say the communist state might be covering up an outbreak and be in dire need of outside help to contain the spread of the highly contagious disease.

South Korea has been seeking to cooperate with the North to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, but Pyongyang has not responded to any offers for cooperation and exchange, as inter-Korean relations have remained chilly amid a stalemate in denuclearization talks. (Yonhap)