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No Plans for Rice Aid Unless North Korea Implements Feb.13 Agreement

No Plans for Rice Aid Unless North Korea Implements Feb.13 Agreement

Posted May. 25, 2007 03:12,   


The government reportedly decided to delay its plan to provide North Korea with 400,000 tons of food loans, scheduled to be delivered by sea at the end of this month, until it sees progress by North Korea in implementing the February 13 agreement.

This decision was made at the Policy Coordinating Committee on National Security Issues, held at the Cheong Wa Dae on May 23.

Indeed, until today, the government has not concluded any purchasing and chartering contracts for the granting of food loans to North Korea. Given that no agreements on food loans have been concluded between the Export-Import Bank of Korea and North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, there is a low possibility that any food shipment will depart for North Korea within the next month.

A government official said, “Although it was not explicitly mentioned in the agreement at the 13th meeting of the Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation Committee, we clearly delivered our stance that the government will adjust its time and process schedule of food aid, hinging upon whether North Korea implements the February 13 agreement.

Recently, the U.S. has also expressed its negative views on South Korea’s loan grant to North Korea which occurred even though the Feb 13 agreement is yet to be implemented. Alexander Vershbow, U.S. Ambassador to Korea, stressed in a speech at Yonsei University on May 23, “We must deter North Korea from thinking that it will receive economic support without delivering on its promise.”

Earlier, by making official inquiries about the progress of food loans schemes at the Unification Ministry and Foreign Ministry, the U.S. Embassy in Korea reportedly indirectly showed its diversionary stance against food loans to North Korea.

Meanwhile, as the government decided on its plan to temporarily suspend food loans, the four-day 21st Inter-Korean Ministerial Meeting, slated for May 29 in Seoul, is likely to encounter rough passage.

At the 19th ministerial talks last July, when North Korea was denied of its request for support of raw materials for light industry worth USD 80 million by South Korea, on the grounds of North Korea’s liability for its missile testing, North Korea back-lashed to South Korea’s denial by suspending all relations with South Korea for a while. However, ministerial talks were resumed in late February this year.

A government high official said, “The government is yet to decide its fate (regarding the aid delay to North Korea). Let us wait until the next ministerial meeting is held.