North declines food aid from South

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North declines food aid from South

North Korea has seemingly decided not to accept humanitarian aid by South Korea’s private relief agencies if it comes with monitoring, aid officials here said yesterday.

North Korea has said it will only accept “pure” humanitarian aid from South Korea, in an apparent rejection of aid with strings attached, an aid official said of his recent contact with his North Korean counterpart.

Another South Korean private aid official also made a similar comment. The two spoke on condition of anonymity, citing policy.

The North’s move came as North Korean and U.S. officials held talks in Beijing last week to work out details of 240,000 metric tons of U.S. food aid reached in their recent nuclear deal.

South Korea has called for monitoring of its food aid to the North to ensure that the aid reaches its intended beneficiaries in the isolated country.

There have been widespread allegations that the communist country has diverted outside food aid to its elite and military, which had served as a key backbone for the rule of North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong-il. Kim died of a heart attack in December and was succeeded by his youngest son, Kim Jong-un.

Many North Korean defectors in the South have claimed that they rarely received foreign food aid in the North.

In November, North Korea allowed a South Korean official to travel to the North for a rare chance to monitor flour aid sent by a South Korean private organization.

Last year, South Korean civic groups donated nearly 3,000 tons of flour to North Korea and some of the civic groups sent monitors to the North to try to ensure the transparency of the distribution of their food aid.

Despite the North’s alleged rejection of aid with strings attached, a private aid official said his group plans to send food aid to the North this year.

“We plan to conduct monitoring in an appropriate manner through consultations with North Korea,” the official said. He asked not to be identified, citing policy.

The North has relied on international handouts since the late 1990s when it suffered a massive famine that was estimated to have killed 2 million people. Yonhap
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