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US Pledges Additional Food Aid  for  North Korea - 2003-12-24

The United States says it will donate an additional 60,000 tons of food to North Korea -- where millions of people are again facing severe hunger.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the contribution is in response to urgent appeals by the United Nations World Food Program. Last week, the agency warned it would have to cut food distribution to three million North Koreans, if foreign donors do not provide enough aid.

The World Food Program says so far this year it has received less than two-thirds of the food it needs to meet its target -- feed 6.5 million North Koreans.

Earlier this year, the United States gave the Pyongyang government 40,000 tons of food. Washington stopped additional aid after the North refused to allow outside aid workers monitor the distribution of food, despite suspicions it was being diverted to the military and government elite.

American food shipments to North Korea have declined by about a third from past years, but the United States remains the single-biggest donor of food to Pyongyang.