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President Moon vows assistance for N. Koreans despite nuclear tension

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday that his government will continue to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea despite growing tensions over its nuclear and missile provocations.

In a meeting with some 200 leaders of the presidential advisory council at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, Moon insisted that peace is made rather than given or found.

"Over the past 10 years, there have been many difficulties for the activities of the National Unification Advisory Council, as South-North Korea relations have come to a halt. But the new government will not hesitate in supporting various unification projects by the advisory council no matter how bad the North-South relationship is," the president said.
 
President Moon Jae-in (R) speaks to leaders of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council in a meeting held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Sept. 27, 2017. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in (R) speaks to leaders of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council in a meeting held at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Sept. 27, 2017. (Yonhap)

The advisory council, established in 1981, is chaired by the president, and has over 19,000 individual members, including more than 3,600 members in 122 other countries throughout the world. The council offers policy advice on national unification.

The two Koreas technically remain at war, as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

Many, including Moon, believe inter-Korean relations deteriorated when the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration began taking a hard-line stance toward the impoverished North. Inter-Korean dialogue and exchanges also remained stalled under Moon's immediate predecessor, Park Geun-hye.

The new South Korean leader stressed the need to improve ties.

"Though the conditions are currently not so easy, peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula will come for certain. I ask you to be our pioneers," he told the meeting, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

South Korea approved a package of humanitarian aid to the North worth $8 million Thursday, though it said the exact timing of its implementation will be determined at a later date.

The decision came less than three weeks after Pyongyang staged its sixth and apparently most powerful nuclear test so far.

The Seoul government has also proposed the resumption of military talks and Red Cross dialogue with the North to discuss humanitarian issues and ways to ease tension along the inter-Korean border, including the reunions of families separated by the two countries' division. Pyongyang continues to remain silent in response to the offers.

"We must firmly deal with the North Korean nuclear issue through our strong Korea-US alliance and close international cooperation, but we must also continue our efforts and preparations for a peaceful unification at the same time. The advisory council must play that role," the president said.

"Peace is not given but is made," he added. "Unification will come as early as we are prepared for it." (Yonhap)
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