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US to meet North Korea envoy in Beijing on food aid

 In this Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, a North Korean woman carries her baby on her back as she walks past farm fields at a collective farm near Suriwon, ...

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In this Oct. 25, 2011 file photo, a North Korean woman carries her baby on her back as she walks past farm fields at a collective farm near Suriwon, ...

The US plans to meet with North Korea to discuss food aid on March 7 in Beijing, the US State Department said Friday.

Ambassador Robert King, the special envoy for North Korea human rights issues, and US Agency for International Development Deputy Assistant Administrator Jon Brause will travel to Beijing for the talks, the department said in a statement.

The US has agreed to make final plans to provide North Korea an initial 240,000 metric tons of food aid, to be provided in 20,000-ton increments every month for a year.

The talks in Beijing will focus on shipment and implementation issues, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

As many as 3 million North Koreans, of a population of 24 million, will need food assistance this year, the World Food Program said Nov 25. About 6 million people don’t have enough to eat because North Korea’s isolation, economic mismanagement, and weather conditions hurt rice production, according to a report last year by the program and other UN agencies. Almost a million of the needy 6 million are children under the age of five, according to Unicef, the UN children program.

In recent talks, “we were not prepared to give rice and wheat, we were not prepared to give things that could be diverted to other uses,” Nuland said.

Providing items such as high-protein biscuits and vitamin supplements rather than bulk foods, such as rice and wheat, will prevent the food assistance from being diverted to the North Korean elites and military or sold by the state for profit.


Updated : 2021-07-27 05:15 GMT+08:00