May 8 (UPI) -- South Korea said Wednesday Presidents Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump agreed Seoul should be permitted to provide food aid to the impoverished North, a sign Seoul is doubling down on engagement despite North Korea's recent test of multiple projectiles.
South Korea's presidential Blue House and unification ministry told reporters on Wednesday the government is prepared to deliver humanitarian assistance to the North, local television network SBS reported.
The Blue House is also playing down previous statements suggesting Trump and Moon discussed North Korea launch vehicles. According to SBS, by Wednesday the president's office was saying there was "no mention" of North Korea tests during the Trump-Moon call on Tuesday.
Ko Yu-hwan, a South Korean analyst at Dongguk University, said the recent call could mean the two sides are leaving the door to dialogue open, and that the intention could be to build trust with North Korea despite the missile tests.
North Korea is suffering from food shortages. Last week the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Food Program said ordinary people are coping with drastically reduced food rations.
The issue of food aid could be up for discussion -- Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special envoy on North Korea, arrived in Seoul on Wednesday.
Unification ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min said any food aid from the South would be delivered in coordination with United Nations agencies, local newspaper Segye Ilbo reported Wednesday.
Yoo Ho-yeol, a South Korean analyst at Korea University, told the paper the food aid could restart talks with the North, but it is not a move that could bring about dramatic changes to the current impasse on the peninsula.
Seoul Pyongyang News reported South Korea does have a surplus of rice that could be used toward aid. About 300,000 tons of rice could be delivered to the North, the report says.