South Korea on Thursday announced it would provide emergency aid to ease acute food shortages in North Korea, but said its regular annual rice shipments will remain suspended.
Seoul wants Pygonyang to start honouring a nuclear disarmament accord reached in February before it resumes the regular shipments.
However Unification Minister Lee Jae-Joung said the South would deliver 10,500 tons of emergency rice, which was suspended last year because of the North's missile and nuclear tests.
He said South Korea would provide another 44,000 tons of food worth 21-23 million dollars through the UN's World Food Programme (WFP).
"The government has accepted the latest request from WFP and decided to provide the aid... given the acute food problem in North Korea and the repeated aid requests from the international organisation," Lee told reporters.
He said the emergency bilateral rice aid was urgently needed and would be sent in consultation with the South's Red Cross "at an appropriate time."