December 21, 2018 / 5:05 AM / 3 months ago

U.S., S.Korea agree to help provide flu drugs to N.Korea - envoy

SEOUL, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea agreed to help provide antiviral flu medications to North Korea, Seoul’s nuclear envoy said on Friday, after Washington said it would expedite humanitarian aid amid stalled nuclear talks with Pyongyang.

The nuclear negotiators of the United States and South Korea held a meeting in Seoul of a working group they launched last month to boost policy coordination on North Korea.

They explored ways to improve the delivery of humanitarian aid, which relief groups say has been sharply limited by the United States’ strict enforcement of international sanctions imposed because of the North’s nuclear and missile programmes, the envoys said.

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, said on Wednesday he would meet U.S. aid groups early next year and review Washington’s aid policy.

South Korea’s envoy, Lee Do-hoon, said the United States agreed to support South Korea’s plan to provide the flu drug Tamiflu to the North as part of the discussions.

The move is aimed at kick-starting nuclear diplomacy between Washington and Pyongyang, Biegun said, as they struggle to find a breakthrough in stalled negotiations.

“Of course all of this is intended to advance what we’re trying to do with North Korea,” Biegun told reporters.

“Now that work begins with denuclearisation but also includes the strong commitments by both of our countries to transform relations and build a permanent peace regime on the Korean peninsula,” he said. (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin Editing by Paul Tait)

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