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North Korea is not suffering from food crisis: US team

Posted June. 20, 2011 04:09,   


The U.S. has tentatively concluded that North Korea is not suffering from a food crisis though certain areas in the Stalinist country do have food shortages.

This conclusion is based on the visit by a U.S. assessment team for food assistance to the North led by Robert King, U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights, said a South Korea diplomatic source Sunday.

“Though the U.S. has yet to release an official report on the visit, it made a preliminary judgment based on the results of the assessment team’s trip that the North has no comprehensive food crisis,” the source said.

Based on the judgment, Washington is known to believe that food assistance is necessary for certain regions in the North where food is in short supply.

The U.S. will make a final decision on sending food assistance to the North by putting together the results of the U.S. visit and those of European Union officials to the Stalinist country between June 6 and 17. The U.S. team went to the North on May 24 and stayed there until June 2 to visit Hamkyong and Jagang provinces.

In the visit, King is known to talked to North Korean officials on how the U.S. will provide food aid if it decides to do so. The U.S. team, however, reportedly failed to agree with Pyongyang on a monitoring system aimed at securing the transparency of food distribution.

A source in Seoul said, “Washington’s stance is that negotiations with the North on the monitoring system need to be continued.”

Despite Washington’s active move to provide food support to Pyongyang, time is needed before a final decision is made. The source in Seoul said, “The U.S. government is more active than the South Korean government in providing food assistance to North Korea, but the situation in the U.S. on the matter is quite complex, with the U.S. House of Representatives seeking a bill to ban food assistance to the North.”

“What’s left is Washington persuading Congress after the announcement of the U.S. assessment team’s visit to Pyongyang.”