중앙데일리

U.S. plans hefty aid for Pyongyang

May 07,2008
Zoo workers at Children’s Grand Park in Seoul decontaminate bird cages yesterday to prevent the spread of avian flu, which may have broken out in a nearby aviary in the Gwangjin District Office. By Kim Sang-seon
As Washington is reportedly preparing to send 500,000 tons of rice to Pyongyang, South Korea will continue close consultations with the United States, Korea’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday,
The ministry confirmed that a team of U.S. government officials is visiting North Korea to discuss the food aid, amid growing worries that the impoverished nation is slipping back to where it was in the 1990s when as many as 2 million people starved. “North Korea is known to be suffering because of a poor harvest following last year’s floods and recent hikes in grain prices,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said at a press briefing.
The aid comes at a sensitive time. The United States has said that there have recently been major advances in talks with North Korea on dismantling the North’s nuclear program.
Aggravating the North Korean food situation is a slowdown of aid from two of North Korea’s key donors — China and South Korea.
Due to rising food prices, China has restricted its exports and is not expected to send as much to its communist ally as in the past. And South Korea has put its aid program with North Korea on hold as relations between the two countries have soured following the election of conservative President Lee Myung-bak.
The American delegation will be in Pyongyang for an undetermined period trying to reach agreement with Pyongyang officials over how to guarantee that U.S. food will be distributed to North Koreans most in need, the State Department said.
“We are concerned about the needs of the North Korean people and have had some discussions with the [government] on food assistance and management of a food aid program,’’ said Kurtis Cooper, a State Department spokesman.
Moon said that the Seoul government will continue cooperating with the United States on the matter, but he would not predict when the South will resume its rice supply to North Korea. Lee pledged to take a tougher approach toward Pyongyang soon after he was elected.
Moon said earlier that South Korea will resume assistance only if the North formally asks for it.
Under Lee, the South Korean government has said it expects North Korea to reciprocate for aid, a change from the previous decade of liberal South Korean governments. The new policy has angered Pyongyang, which has claimed it does not need the aid.
The U.S. is expected to announce a massive aid program including the rice provision in the six-way nuclear talks likely to restart late this month.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte was scheduled to leave Washington on Tuesday for talks in Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing that were expected to include discussions about North Korea. Yonhap/AP


dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장