S Korea group to send food aid to North Korea

New leader Kim Jong-un visits construction site on 12 January 2012 (image via KCNA)
Image caption North Korea, now led by Kim Jong-un (C), has agreed to the delivery, Seoul said

South Korea is to allow a private group to deliver food aid to North Korea - the first such visit since the death of Kim Jong-il a month ago.

The Unification Ministry said the group would deliver 180 tons of flour to the North, which had agreed to the visit.

South Korea has not sent government aid to the North since 2008, but it allows private groups to send some shipments.

The group will deliver the aid on 27 January to a school and day-care centre near the inter-Korean industrial zone.

"The mourning period is over in the North and the normal administrative process has resumed. As part of this process, North Korea accepted the visit," said Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk.

South Korea's government used to send large amounts of food aid to North Korea, but this policy was suspended in 2008 when Lee Myung-bak took office.

Mr Lee says the provision of food aid must be linked to progress on the nuclear issue.

In the wake of Mr Kim's death on 17 December his third son, Kim Jong-un, has been put in place as his successor.

North Korea's neighbours are watching the transition in the communist state closely, amid fears it could lead to instability.

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