By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - In a major call Friday, South Korea said that it will allow its businessmen to visit North three years after Seoul unilaterally halted its operations at a joint industrial park, a South Korean news agency reported.
"The government decided to approve the business people’s trip to North Korea as part of efforts to protect their property rights," Yonhap quoted a South Korean statement.
"We will make necessary efforts to make their trip to the Kaesong industrial complex go smoothly without any problem."
North and South Koreas launched a joint industrial park in North Korean border town of Kaesong in 2004 after the first-ever inter-Korean summit between then South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung and late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.
However, Seoul unilaterally stopped its 120 businessmen from further operations at the business facility in February 2016 aiming "to punish the North for its nuclear and missile provocations".
Nearly 200 South Korean businesspeople used to operate their plants at the facility.
- Aid for North
Also on Friday, South Korean Unification Ministry said that South Korea will donate $ 8 million to international agencies including the World Food Program and UNICEF for aid projects in North Korea.
The latest development comes after Pyongyang held "ballistic missile" tests last week drawing sharp reaction from Seoul and Tokyo but a guarded response from Washington.
According to Yonhap news agency, Seoul will also send food aid to Pyongyang for which consultations are going on.
Seoul confirmed that the U.S. was informed of the latest development and "Washington sufficiently understands our stance".
"We have shared with the United States details of the nature and purpose of their trip, which is to check their property, and I can say that the U.S. side sufficiently understands our stance," Lee Sang-min, Unification Ministry spokesman told reporters Friday.