An acute food shortage in North Korea has led the World Food Programme to appeal to Seoul to send food aid to the impoverished communist country, officials said Thursday, dpa reported.
The UN agency asked South Korea for a 60-million-dollar donation to its new emergency relief programme to provide sustenance for 6.2 million hungry children, women and elderly in North Korea, a South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman said.
"The government will decide whether to accept the appeal or not based on public opinion," the spokesman said.
"We don't link humanitarian aid to political issues, such as the nuclear issue," he said in reference to North Korea's nuclear weapons programme.
In July, the World Food Programme reported that floods and poor harvests had caused North Korea's worst food crisis in a decade.
South Korea, which has provided annual aid to North Korea in the form of rice and fertilizer in recent years, suspended the shipment this year after political ties froze in February with the inauguration of conservative President Lee Myung Bak.
Relations have been further strained by the fatal shooting in July of a South Korean tourist in North Korea's Mount Kumgang resort.
Seoul earlier had said it would not make the shipments until the North requests them, which it has not done.
Despite the strained relations, non-governmental organizations in South Korea have continued their assistance to North Korea.