News / Asia

US, North Korea to Discuss New American Food Aid

US rights envoy Robert King  (File Photo)
US rights envoy Robert King (File Photo)
TEXT SIZE - +

U.S. and North Korean envoys meet in Beijing Thursday to discuss a possible resumption of U.S. food aid to the reclusive communist state. The talks will focus on guarantees, sought by the United States,  that U.S. assistance will go only to North Koreans truly in need. 

The State Department says a team led by Robert King, U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will meet North Korean officials in Beijing on terms for the possible re-start of food aid to Pyongyang after a break of more than two and a half years.

Despite its political differences with North Korea, the United States has been the biggest single contributor of food aid to the communist state since its famine in the 1990’s.

But the program has been hampered by recurring reports of diversion of food donations to North Korea’s military or members of its political elite.

The most recent U.S. aid effort was suspended in early 2009 over North Korea’s resistance to allowing Korean-speaking monitors to observe food distribution.

At a news briefing, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said U.S. envoy King will probe whether North Korea is prepared to submit to more rigorous monitoring.

“Were we to decide to go forward with this, we would need to have much more strict and clear monitoring systems in place in order to move forward," said Nuland. "So that is ‘Topic A’ for the conversations between special envoy King and his DPKR interlocutors in Beijing, who will include Ambassador Ri Gun, the DPRK Director-General for North American Affairs.”

The American team includes U.S. Agency for International Development deputy assistant administrator Jon Brause, who held preliminary talks on the issue in North Korea last May.

U.S. spokeswoman Nuland referred repeatedly to possible U.S. “nutritional assistance” to North Korea as opposed to conventional food aid, such as the bulk commodities like rice and corn provided in the past.

“When you think about food, you think about sacks of rice, cans of food, things that might easily be diverted to the wrong purpose," said Nuland. "When you talk about nutritional assistance, it could be that. But it could also be things like vitamin supplements to populations in need like women and children. It could also be high-protein biscuits or other things that you would only need to use for populations in need and would not find themselves on some leader’s banquet table.”

Aid agencies say North Korea’s food situation is the worst in several years, with torrential rains and harsh winter weather early this year cutting harvests and prompting appeals for help from Pyongyang.

Spokeswoman Nuland said U.S. envoy King will return to Washington right after the Beijing talks to report to administration officials but did not say when a decision on new aid, if any, might be made.

She said the talks are totally separate from ongoing discussions about resuming Chinese-sponsored six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.

Newly-named U.S. envoy for North Korea Glyn Davies held talks with senior Chinese officials in Beijing Tuesday as part of a regional tour for consultations on the nuclear issue.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid