U.S. CONSIDERS ADDITIONAL FOOD AID TO NORTH KOREA


2003-09-17
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Pyongyang must allow WFP access to the vulnerable

Listen to the original broadcast in Korean

The U.S. government is considering whether to provide additional food aid shipments to North Korea, outside of its regular donations via the World Food Program (WFP), RFA's Korean service reports.

"The United States provides food aid on an entirely humanitarian basis. It is not linked to political issues," said Adam Ereli, U.S. State Department spokesman. He said the United States had already provided 40,000 tonnes of food aid through the WFP, but was considering additional shipments of 60,000 tonnes of food aid.

However, there were conditions attached, Ereli said. These were that the authorities in the isolated Communist state, which has suffered from severe food shortages and famine in recent years, should allow the WFP access to all vulnerable North Koreans.

It should also be demonstrably needed, and shown to be reaching its targeted beneficiaries, Ereli said. "We remain concerned that North Korea has not allowed the WFP access to all vulnerable North Koreans," he added.

In spite of continuing discussions between foreign aid organizations and North Korean officials, Pyongyang still makes difficulties for the WFP in carrying out its mandate by official supervision of its activities. "We have discussed these concerns directly with the North Korean, as well as the WFP and other donors," Ereli said.

Washington's announcement comes after top negotiators from the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia met in Beijing in late August to discuss the 11-month standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

U.S. and North Korean officials met privately and informally on the sidelines of the talks, but both sides simply reiterated prior demands. The talks concluded with an agreement to continue, but no date has yet been set.

North Korea wants a bilateral nonaggression pact with the United States before it abandons its nuclear arms program, while the United States wants North Korea to move quickly to scrap the nuclear program first.

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