South Korea Tuesday sent aid worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to help North Korea fight swine flu despite recent military tensions between the two sides.
Twenty trucks carrying 200,000 litres of hand sanitiser crossed the closely guarded frontier en route to the North's border town of Kaesong, Seoul's unification ministry said.
AdvertisementThe sanitiser worth one billion won (863,000 dollars) follows Seoul's shipment in December of Tamiflu and Relenza, worth 15 million dollars and enough to treat 500,000 people.
The delivery of the anti-viral drugs marked Seoul's first government-level assistance to its impoverished communist neighbour for nearly two years.
North Korea in December reported nine cases of the (A)H1N1 virus but has not announced any deaths. Seoul officials and private groups suspect there are more cases and that the disease is spreading amid poor health conditions.
Seoul-based welfare groups Good Friends in December reported about 50 deaths in the North.
Pyongyang has sent mixed messages to its neighbour in recent months.
After a naval clash last November near the disputed Yellow Sea border, the North in January fired 370 shells into the sea close to the frontier in an apparent display of firepower.
Last week it announced new naval firing zones off its shores, banning shipping from them until Monday, although no firing was reported.
However, the North's military Monday proposed a date for talks on ways to ease cross-border access to a jointly-run industrial estate at Kaesong. The South has yet to agree a date or place for the meeting.