U.S. ponders food-team trip to North

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U.S. ponders food-team trip to North

The United States is evaluating a plan to send a team of experts to analyze the food situation in North Korea, following an assessment made by the UN’s World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization.

According to several diplomatic sources from the United States and South Korea, there is an ongoing debate whether to send the experts to the reclusive country.

Sources said the White House and State Department are tentative about the idea of sending the team, but USAID is positive.

When asked whether the decision to send the team would be equivalent to the U.S. resuming food aid to the North, a source told the JoongAng Ilbo, “Not necessarily.”

“According to [the team’s] analysis, if the food situation in North Korea is found to be not so serious, aid may be delayed or not given at all,” said the source.

South Korean government officials and analysts have been expecting the U.S. to resume food aid sometime in the future.

But the U.S. has emphasized that it would consider the relations it has with South Korea before it does. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was cited by a South Korean diplomatic source on April 25 as saying she guaranteed President Lee Myung-bak that the decision over food aid would be made with regard to the South’s position.

Clinton also reassured Lee that the decision would not be rushed.

The South Korean government is still firm that it will not resume large-scale food aid to the North in the near future, although the Ministry of Unification is continuing to approve small amounts of emergency aid for children and infants.

By Kang Chan-ho, Christine Kim [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]
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