Seoul: North Korea Wednesday returned a South
Korean fishing boat seized a month ago and requested flood aid from its neighbour, in an apparent easing of tensions after
months of hostility.
The squid fishing boat and seven crew -- four South
Koreans and three Chinese -- crossed the east coast sea border
en route to its home port, the South`s coastguard said.
The North announced yesterday it would return the
41-tonne boat, seized on August 8 for allegedly trespassing in
an exclusive economic zone, as a "humanitarian" gesture.
Seoul`s unification ministry said separately the North
had asked for rice, cement and heavy construction equipment in
response to an offer by the South`s Red Cross to provide flood relief aid worth USD 8.3 million.
"If the South is to send flood aid, it will be better
that resources and equipment needed for recovery from flood
damage be sent along with rice," the ministry quoted the
North`s message received last Saturday as saying.
Spokesman Chun Hae-Sung said Seoul was considering the
Cross-border relations have been icy since Seoul accused
Pyongyang of torpedoing of one its warships in March, killing
46 people. The North denies the charge.