SEOUL, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- South Korea said Tuesday Pyongyang has asked for rice, cement and heavy machinery to aid its recovery from recent flooding.
The request came in response to an Aug. 31 offer by the South Korean Red Cross of $8.5 million in humanitarian aid, a spokesman for the Unification Ministry told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
Chun Hae-sung said instead of emergency food, basic necessities and medical aid, the North's Red Cross said it wants rice, cement and excavators.
A political observer said if the request is accepted it would help lessen tension between the two countries over the sinking of a South Korean warship.
"It will help set the mood for talks between the two sides," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor of North Korean studies in Seoul.
Tuesday, North Korea carried out an earlier promise to release the seven crew members of a South Korean fishing boat it seized nearly a month ago for trespassing in its waters.