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)

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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid