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Germany Protests North Korea’s Expulsion of Aid Workers

Germany has summoned North Korea’s ambassador in Berlin over Pyongyang’s expulsion of two representatives of a German aid group.

Last week, the group Welthungerhilfe said Pyongyang had expelled the group’s director in the country, Regina Feindt, in late February. Later Feindt’s colleague, who had worked in North Korea for more than 10 years, also had to leave the country.

In an e-mail statement to the VOA Korean service, Laura Amley Gruenewald, an official with the German foreign ministry press office, said Berlin has summoned the North Korean ambassador twice to lodge a complaint.

“We consider these incidents neither helpful with regard to the NGO’s efforts to improve the situation of DPRK citizens, nor to our bilateral dialogue in general," she wrote.

Pyongyang has not provided a reason for the expulsions.

Simone Pott, a spokeswoman for Welthungerhilfe, told VOA his group has not done anything wrong.

“We have no reasons to believe that she has done anything wrong in her behavior for this act and we don’t give any more details,” she said.

Pott said her group plans to continue current projects in the country despite the incident, adding the group has two staffs in its Pyongyang office.

A German official, who did not want to be named, told VOA that humanitarian aid for North Korea will continue this year despite the expulsions.

The German aid group is currently running various humanitarian projects in the communist country. Previously known as German Agro Action, the group has been providing humanitarian assistance to the country since 1997.

In a related move, North Korea’s official media, Korean Central News Agency, said Wednesday the country was expelling U.S. aid worker Sandra Suh for engaging in what it said was a conspiracy against the state.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Washington is working to confirm the report.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.