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South Korea holds back food aid to North amid delay in nuclear disarmament deal

South Korea holds back food aid to North amid delay in nuclear disarmament deal

South Korea appears to be holding back on promised food aid to the North, as the communist nation has yet to meet its nuclear disarmament obligations amid a prolonged banking dispute with the United States.
A South Korean official said yesterday that Seoul has not bought any of the rice promised to the North, or arranged a ship to transport it, making the agreed late May delivery date highly unlikely.
South Korea agreed during economic talks with the North last month to provide its impoverished neighbor with 400,000 tons of rice, with delivery beginning in late May.
No preconditions were attached to the agreement, but Seoul officials stressed that they told their North Korean counterparts the delivery would depend on whether Pyongyang implements the February accord reached at international arms talks.
"We're watching the situation," the government official said, asking not to be named citing the issue's sensitivity. "We said (during last month's talks) that the timing and the pace could be adjusted."
North Korea pledged at international nuclear talks in February to shut down its atomic reactor by mid-April, but has not done so yet, citing a banking dispute with the United States surrounding its money held in a Macau bank blacklisted by Washington.
Pyongyang has repeatedly said it remains committed to the nuclear deal and would act on it as soon as the financial row is resolved. But there have been no clear signs of when that would be.


Updated : 2021-10-22 01:47 GMT+08:00