U.S. won’t donate good food to North, says King

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U.S. won’t donate good food to North, says King


Robert King

Robert King, a U.S. special envoy who traveled to North Korea last week, said Wednesday that if the United States restarts food aid to the communist country, it’s not going to send good stuff that would be diverted to the military, including rice.

“The kinds of food we provide would be the kinds of foods that are less desirable for the elite, for the military,” King told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday. “For example, we would not provide rice. We would focus on some kind of nutrition program to provide other kinds of food that would be harder to divert.”

King, Washington’s envoy on human rights issues, led the U.S. food assessment team to Pyongyang on May 24, amid growing speculation that the United States is taking a preliminary step to resume food aid to the North, which was suspended in 2009 over monitoring issues.

King wrapped up his visit to the North, the first by a high-ranking U.S. emissary since December 2009, on May 28 with the U.S. food team remaining for further research until Thursday.

King said no conclusion has yet been made as to whether there is a legitimate humanitarian need for food assistance in the North. A World Food Program report in March, which said there was urgent need for food aid for the North Korean people, has been doubted by some people.

King said the North will also have to address questions about past U.S. food aid. The United States is seeking information from the North about 20,000 tons of food it previously provided, which the North distributed on its own after expelling international monitors in March 2009.

To better ensure fair distribution, he said Washington would not deliver all of the assistance in bulk if it decides to resume aid, and would send Korean-speaking supervisors.

Seoul has expressed concern that the North would stockpile any aid given to be used next year, when it marks the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il Sung’s birth.

South Korea opposes Washington resuming aid, but has tried to keep quiet about it. In Washington, King disclosed Seoul’s disagreement with the idea.

“They would prefer that we not provide food assistance,” he said. “On the other hand, they allowed NGOs in South Korea to provide food on their own.”

King’s visit to the North was rare considering his status as an envoy on human rights issues, and started a guessing game as to whether the North would be willing to discuss human rights.

King said he talked to Kim Kye-gwan, the North’s first vice foreign minister, about human rights for 20 minutes, and Kim invited him back to the North for more discussions.

But a diplomatic source told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday that the North described King publicly as a U.S. State Department representative, without mentioning human rights or food.

By Moon Gwang-lip, Kang Chan-ho [joe@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

로버트 킹 “미국, 북에 식량 줘도 쌀은 안 준다”

“군부가 원치 않는 종류 조금씩 천천히 보낼 것”

로버트 킹(Robert King) 미국 북한인권특사는 2일(현지시간) 미국이 북한에 대한 식량 지원 방침을 결정하더라도 군(軍)으로의 전용을 막기 위해 쌀은 주지 않을 것이라고 밝혔다. 킹 특사는 이날 하원 외교위원회 청문회에 출석, “북한에 지원할 식량이 군부로서는 원하지 않는 종류가 될 것”이라며 이같이 말했다. 이어 “우리는 영양 프로그램에 초점을 맞출 것이며, 한번에 많은 물량을 지원하기보다는 매우 느린 속도로 보내게 될 것”이라고 설명했다. 킹 특사는 “지원 식량이 배분되는 장소에 접근이 가능한 모니터링 요원들을 둘 것”이라 고 밝혔다. 그는 “아직 북한에 식량을 지원할지를 결정하지 않았다”며 “(식량 지원 결정에서) 가장 중요한 요소는 실제로 필요한지 여부이며 정치적 고려는 하지 않을 것”이라고 강조했다.

미국은 2009년 지원 목표량 50만t 중 17만t만 주고 중단한 점을 고려해 이번에 지원을 재개하면 최대 30만t 수준을 고려하고 있는 것으로 전해졌다. 이와 관련, 커트 캠벨 미 국무부 동아태 차관보가 10일 방한해 대북 식량 지원 문제와 최근 북한의 잇따른 대화 거부 움직임에 대한 대응방안을 논의할 예정이라고 소식통은 밝혔다. 캠벨 차관보는 베이징을 찾은 뒤 서울에 들를 것으로 전해졌다.

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