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Powell: US Food Aid to North Korea to Continue Despite Nuclear Confrontation - 2003-02-22

Secretary of State Colin Powell, enroute to Asia, says U.S. food aid to North Korea will continue despite the confrontation with Pyongyang over its nuclear program. Mr. Powell spoke to reporters on the first leg of the trip, between Washington and Alaska.

The United States has been the biggest single contributor to the World Food Program's relief efforts in North Korea. And in his airborne briefing, Mr. Powell said he intends to announce the first installment of U.S. food aid for this year during his five day trip, which includes stops in Japan, China and South Korea.

Mr. Powell said the need in North Korea remains great and that his pending announcement will make clear that the United States does not use food as a political weapon.

North Korea's recent moves to revive its nuclear program will be the focus of Mr. Powell's talks on the trip, as he tries to build support in the region for a multi-lateral approach to get Pyongyang to return to compliance with international accords.

No U.S. food has gone to North Korea since late last year but the lapse was for budgetary reasons. Mr. Powell says the administration still has concerns over how the aid is being distributed there.