US Vows To Consult South Korea About North Korea Food Aid

Workers pack vitamin and mineral enriched biscuits provided by the World Food Programme at a factory in North Korea. The United States will consult closely with South Korea before deciding whether or not to resume food aid to North Korea. Photo by: Gerald Bourke / WFP

The United States will consult closely with South Korea before deciding on whether or not it will resume food aid to North Korea, a senior U.S. government official said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said the U.S. government is carefully studying the option to provide food aid to North Korea, which aid groups say is suffering from severe shortage. North Korea is reportedly seeking food aid from various foreign governments, including the United States, United Kingdom and some African countries.

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“I think we conveyed very clearly to our South Korean friends that we are still in the process of evaluating the situation on the ground and we would continue to consult closely with the South Koreans as we move forward,” the Agence France-Presse quotes Campbell, who visited Seoul March 12.

He added that the United States and South Korea “see this issue in very similar terms.” South Korea halted shipments of food aid and other emergency relief supplies to North Korea following the latter’s bombing of a South Korea island in November.

In a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Campbell said that North Korea’s request for food aid is “still at the study phase.”

>> US Mulls Renewal of Humanitarian Aid to NKorea

Meantime, several Republican U.S. lawmakers have asked the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama not to resume food aid to North Korea. The lawmakers argued that such assistance could boost Kim Jong Il’s rule in the impoverished and reclusive Asian country, AFP says.

Read more about U.S. development aid.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.