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INTRO:  South Korea says it will provide 200-thousand 
tons of fertilizer to North Korea as a humanitarian 
gesture.  As Hyun-Sung Khang reports from Seoul, the 
aid comes ahead of a historic summit between the 
leaders of the two countries scheduled in June.
TEXT:  Although there has been no official request for 
aid from the North, a spokesman for South Korea's 
department responsible for relations with Pyongyang 
said the gift of the fertilizer was being made as a 
gesture of what he called, "brotherly love."
The donation of 200-thousand tons of fertilizer comes 
after 155-thousand tons were sent by the government 
and private organizations last year.  The South Korean 
news agency, Yonhap, said the cost of the fertilizer 
and transportation are estimated to be more than 57-
million dollars.  Shipments will begin later this 
month, in time for planting season, following 
negotiations between representatives of the Red Cross 
from the two Koreas.
According to the United Nations, North Korea is 
suffering from a shortfall of between 400-thousand and 
600-thousand tons of fertilizer.  North Korea has 
experienced successive years of food shortages and the 
resulting famine has reportedly claimed hundreds of 
thousands of lives.
South Korean officials say the North has not requested 
as much aid this year as it has in previous years.  
But food shortages and farming conditions are not 
thought to have improved greatly.
Although the two Koreas remain technically at war 
because no peace treaty was signed at the end of their 
war in 1953, there has been a warming of relations 
between them in recent months.  South Korean officials 
say the this latest donation of fertilizer was made 
for humanitarian reasons, but the gesture could 
improve the atmosphere ahead of the summit between the 
South Korean President, Kim Dae Jung, and the North 
Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, scheduled in Pyongyang, 
next month.
The two Koreas will resume working level talks next 
week and are expected to announce an agreement about 
the procedural details of the summit.   (SIGNED)
06-May-2000 08:36 AM EDT (06-May-2000 1236 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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