SEOUL, South Korea's private humanitarian aid groups are planning to visit North Korea this month to discuss various assistance programs with the North's authorities, officials said Tuesday.
Representatives of the Korea NGO Council for Cooperation with North Korea, a consultative body of about 50 South Korean private organizations committed to humanitarian aid for the North, reportedly plan to visit Pyongyang from Wednesday to Saturday to discuss various cooperation projects with the North's National Reconciliation Council.
"About 10 council representatives will arrive in Pyongyang via China's Shenyang on Wednesday. Their primary goal is to hold consultations on future cooperation projects by its member organizations," an official at the NGO council said.
The NGO council sent a similar delegation to Pyongyang at the end of last month for meetings with North Korean officials and a tour of a children's food factory.
"We have asked for visits to North Korean sites where both sides can conduct cooperation projects in the future and the North appears to have faithfully prepared for our visits to health care centers and other facilities," the council official said.
"The North side is well aware that inter-Korean cooperation and aid projects cannot proceed well immediately due to United Nations sanctions, even if there are bilateral consultations. But the North has sincerely responded to our requests for discussions on future cooperation projects," the official said.
Meanwhile, the Korean Sharing Movement, a South Korean civic organization that has been involved in humanitarian aid for North Korea since 1996, is planning on a Pyongyang visit next week to discuss its cooperation projects with the North.
The movement's North Korea visit, if realized, will come for the first time in six years since October 2012.
"During the upcoming North Korea visit, we'll discuss next year's cooperation projects, including hospital modernization and joint development of rural areas. We'll also be ready to launch cooperation projects in the North as soon as sanctions are eased," Kang Young-sik, secretary-general of the Korean Sharing Movement, said.
Kang then called for changing the paradigm of cooperation projects with North Korea, saying it's time for the two Koreas to think of models to pursue mutual development through cooperation, rather than unilateral assistance.
Source: Yonhap News Agency