South Korea mulls proposing talks with North Korea to provide aid to battle COVID-19

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South Korea intends to have working-level talks with its neighbouring country North Korea, ostensibly to assist it in combating the spread of the deadly virus.

South Korea

Image: AP/Unsplash

As North Korea is witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases, South Korea intends to have working-level talks with its neighbouring country, ostensibly to assist it in combating the spread of the deadly virus. “The government is actively reviewing to officially propose to North Korea holding a working-level meeting in the upcoming week,” Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean official as saying. Meanwhile, South Korea’s Unification Ministry also stated that the country will offer “practical help” in the coronavirus response to the North as soon as possible.

If North Korea accepts the offer, it will be the first time the two Korean nations have met since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol assumed office on May 10. After taking the charge, Suk-yeol also pledged an extremely ambitious plan to massively boost North Korea’s economy in exchange for denuclearization steps. Earlier on May 13, Suk-yeol also proposed shipping COVID-19 vaccinations and other medical supplies to North Korea. However, it’s unclear whether North Korea will step forward for discussions with South Korea amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the former’s recent missile testing. 

North Korea mobilized nearly 1.34 mn people to check the spread of COVID

As per reports, North Korea logged 15 more COVID-linked deaths on Sunday, taking the death toll to 42 since late April. For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, Pyongyang implemented the “maximum emergency” virus control mechanism as it acknowledged an outbreak of COVID-19 last week. North Korea had claimed to be coronavirus-free for almost two years. Meanwhile, the country has also mobilized almost 1.34 million people in an attempt to combat the spread of the virus. According to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, the virus has affected as many as 820,620 people in the country, with at least 496,030 have been cured and 324,550 people still under treatment. 

Kim Jong-un chairs key meeting to take stock of COVID situation

It is pertinent to mention here that North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un convened a meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea and discussed ways to combat the spread of the deadly virus. In the meeting on Saturday, he also reviewed the country’s “maximum emergency” antivirus system in place and discussed ways to ramp up the distribution of emergency medical supplies. Furthermore, Jong-un also claimed that the country is confronting a ‘great turmoil’ owing to the prevailing situation.

Image: AP/Unsplash

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