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North Korea Asks South For Flood Recovery Aid

South Korea says rival North Korea has asked the South for rice, cement, and heavy construction equipment to help the North recover from recent devastating flooding.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said in a statement today that officials in the South are considering the North's request.

Officials said the communist-led North's request came in reply to an offer from South Korea's Red Cross to provide some $8.5 million in emergency relief aid to help the North cope with severe floods in North Korea's northwest.

The announcement also follows North Korea's decision to release the seven-man crew of a South Korean fishing boat who were captured by the North last month off the east coast of the divided Korean peninsula.

Tensions have been high between the two Koreas since South Korea accused the North of sinking a South Korean naval ship in March, killing 46 sailors.

North Korea denies that it carried out the attack.

Meanwhile, delegates are thought to have begun gathering for what Western media are calling North Korea's largest political gathering in three decades, possibly including a major political overhaul.

compiled from agency reports