News

US Says It Is Not Worried About South Korea's Food Aid to North

The U.S. ambassador to South Korea says Washington and Seoul do not have widely divergent views on North Korea, despite an announcement Sunday that the South is ready on its own and outside the six-party nuclear talks framework to provide food aid to the North. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

The current U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Alexander Vershbow, did not share the concerns of one of his predecessors about Seoul's food deal.

He said the goal of each of the countries negotiating with Pyongyang is the same. "I don't think our approach and that of the South Koreans is as divergent as you suggest. Yes, the South Koreans, and the Chinese as well, are not interested in seeing precipitous change or regime collapse. They worry about the flow of refugees and the economic burdens of rapid change. But I think that they certainly agree with us that it is an immediate priority, and an urgent priority, to deal with the nuclear weapons," he said.

Vershbow was responding to Jim Lilley, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and China, who said he has reservations about South Korea's agreement to send 400 tons of rice to North Korea, beginning next month. "I think most of us are concerned about the North Korean arrangement with South Korea," he said.

Lilley said he thinks the United States has a difference of opinion with China and South Korea on what approach the international community should take toward North Korea. He said Washington places a priority on persuading Pyongyang to completely abandon its nuclear weapons programs, while Seoul and Beijing appear to be concerned with maintaining stability and developing North Korea's economy.

But Vershbow, addressing the same audience in Washington, said the South Korean aid is linked to Pyongyang's compliance with the February 13 agreement, reached as part of the so-called Six Party Talks process, to begin dismantling North Korea's nuclear facilities.

"It's my impression that they made very clear to the North Koreans that, as they've announced, that the timing and speed of the actual delivery of the rice and fertilizer aid will be contingent on fulfillment of North Korea's obligations under the February 13 agreement," he said.

Vershbow said delivery of the South Korean food aid will not start until the end of May, so that gives the North Koreans time to, in his words, "come around and get back on track in implementing its commitments." Pyongyang missed an April 14 deadline to begin closing its main nuclear reactor because of a dispute over frozen North Korean funds in a Macau bank.

Although the South Korean deal announced Sunday is separate from the Six Party process, Vershbow said it is closely synchronized to those talks, which include the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. "We remain confident that we're on the same page on this issue, and that we know is the key to success. If the North Koreans can divide us, of course, progress is far less likely," he said.

Vershbow just completed a cross-country trip throughout the United States with his South Korean counterpart, Lee Tae-sik, to, in Vershbow's words, "talk up the U.S.-Korean relationship."

Their trip last week was jolted by the shooting at Virginia Tech. The 23-year-old gunman came to the United States from South Korea. Vershbow said South Koreans initially feared a backlash, which never materialized.

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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs