- - Wednesday, September 12, 2012


SEOUL — North Korea rejected South Korea’s offer of food and medical supplies to help flood victims Wednesday, the South’s government said.

After Pyongyang asked what aid items the South could send, the government Tuesday proposed providing 10,000 tons of flour, 3 million packages of ramen noodles and medical supplies.

On Wednesday, North Korea’s Red Cross sent a message expressing its dissatisfaction with the assistance offered, saying it doesn’t need “such aid,” Seoul’s Unification Ministry said in a statement.

The North’s rejection is “very regrettable,” the statement said.

After floods last year, the North also rejected an offer for aid after Seoul refused to meet its demand to ship cement and heavy equipment, which could be used for military purposes, according to South Korean officials.

Ties between the divided Koreas remain strained following two deadly attacks blamed on North Korea that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010. Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened to attack South Korea over perceived insults.

Floods since June have killed more than 170 people, submerged vast swaths of farmland and destroyed thousands of homes, according to Pyongyang’s state media. A recent typhoon also killed 48 people and left about 21,000 others homeless, state media said.


Cuba ready to negotiate jailed American’s fate

HAVANA — A senior Cuban diplomat said Wednesday her country is prepared to negotiate a solution in the case of a jailed American contractor but is awaiting a U.S. response.

Foreign Ministry official Josefina Vidal also rejected allegations by the wife of 63-year-old Maryland native Alan Gross that her husband’s health is failing after more than 21/2 years in custody.

“Cuba reiterates its willingness to talk with the United States government to find a solution in the case of Mr. Gross and continues to await an answer,” Ms. Vidal, who heads the ministry’s Office of North American Affairs, said in a statement sent to the Associated Press. She gave no details.

It was the first time a Cuban official has hinted that a specific proposal has been made and indicated that the ball was in Washington’s court.

Previously, senior officials in President Raul Castro’s government have raised the case of five Cuban agents sentenced to long jail terms in the United States, though they have not spelled out publicly that they are seeking an exchange.

Story Continues →