News

    South Korea Agrees to Resume Aid to North

    South Korea has agreed to resume massive shipments of rice to impoverished North Korea, despite Pyongyang's failure to shut its main nuclear reactor as promised at six-party talks on its nuclear weapons programs. Kate Woodsome has more on the agreement from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

    South Korean officials announced in Pyongyang Sunday that Seoul will begin sending 400,000 tons of rice to the North next month. The decision emerged after four days of tense negotiations.

    Seoul originally wanted to link the humanitarian aid to North Korea's compliance with a February agreement on initial steps toward ending its nuclear weapons programs. But North Korean officials protested that suggestion, storming out of negotiations Thursday. The final agreement does not link the rice aid and the nuclear disarmament issues.

     Nevertheless, South Korea's chief delegate to the talks in Pyongyang (Chin Dong-soo) told reporters there that Seoul did not abandon the nuclear issue completely.  He said Seoul has informed Pyongyang that the timing and speed of the rice shipments will depend on the North's implementation of the six-nation deal.

    Under that deal, North Korea was due to close its main nuclear reactor by April 14th, and readmit United Nations nuclear inspectors to the country, but so far it has failed to do either.

    Chun In-young, professor emeritus of political science at Seoul National University, says the South is trying to work with the North, rather than pressure it into complying with the nuclear deal.

    "So with this humanitarian consideration, hopefully [it will] work for better relations, so North Korea changing course to negotiate a solution of the North Korea programs of weapons," Chun says.

    Chun says Seoul is worried about the North Korean people, and about South Korea's own security.

    "We want peace on the Korean peninsula and stability in the region, northeast Asian region. We also are committed and concerned with North Korean people's tragic situation, especially food shortage and other things," Chun says.

    North Korea suffers from persistent food shortages, and relies heavily on U.N. and other foreign aid. Famine caused by weather and mismanagement is thought to have killed more than a million people in the mid-1990's, and serious food shortages continue. 

    Seoul suspended food and fertilizer shipments last year after Pyongyang test-fired ballistic missiles and tested a nuclear weapon.

    The two Koreas also agreed Sunday to conduct a test-run on May 17 of a cross-border railway. Trains have not crossed their heavily fortified border since the Korean War ended more than 50 years ago.

    South Korean media say Seoul has pledged to send the North raw materials to produce clothing, footwear and soap in return for natural resources - if the rail test is successful.

    The other participants in the six-nation talks have not been as accommodating as Seoul. The United States says it has nothing to offer North Korea, and that it is time for Pyongyang to uphold its pledge to quit the nuclear business.

    Pyongyang says it will not act until $25 million in North Korean assets are released from a Macau bank. The funds were frozen in 2005 after Washington blacklisted the bank for allegedly laundering money from North Korea's illicit activities.

    Macau has cleared the release of the funds, with U.S. approval. But the transfer has not been completed, and it is unclear when it will go through.

     

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora