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US to Provide $100,000 in Aid to North Korea for Devastating Train Accident - 2004-04-26


Setting aside political differences with Pyongyang, the United States is providing North Korea with at least $100,000 in emergency aid to help it deal with last week's devastating train accident and explosion.

The statement by White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the United States was responding to the findings of an international assessment team that visited the scene of Thursday's rail collision and explosion, and that the thoughts and prayers of Americans are with the victims and with the families that have suffered "terrible loss."

The statement by White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the United States was responding to the findings of an international assessment team that visited the scene of Saturday's rail collision and explosion, and that the thoughts and prayers of Americans are with the victims and with the families that have suffered "terrible loss."

The reclusive communist government in North Korea issued a rare appeal for international help after saying that hundreds of people were killed and thousands injured in the fiery collision of two fuel trains.

The United States has been leading an international diplomatic drive to get North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, but in a talk with reporters, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the U.S. aid decision is a humanitarian gesture, totally unrelated to the six-nation nuclear talks.

"This offer stands on its own merits," he said. "This is a humanitarian catastrophe that has befallen the people of North Korea. And the United States is offering it in that spirit and in that spirit alone. We believe that there is a sufficient basis to hope and expect that the six-party talks will get underway again, and that the North Koreans will see it in their interest to do that, separately and distinct from this humanitarian issue."

China has hosted two rounds of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear program and a third session is to be held by the end of June.

Prospects are fading for a working-level meeting of the talks that was supposed to take place this month, but officials here say they hope the working groups can be convened in early May.

Despite the icy political relationship with North Korea, the United States has long been the single-biggest provider of food aid to that impoverished country, committing 100,000 tons of food last year for distribution through the U.N.'s World Food Program.

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