US confirms food talks with DPRK

Updated: 2011-12-15 09:44


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WASHINGTON - The US State Department on Wednesday confirmed that the country will hold talks on food assistance with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in Beijing.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed to reporters that US special envoy for DPRK human rights Robert King is in Beijing now for talks on Thursday.

"This follow up on conversations we've had in the past about whether the United States will provide nutritional assistance to North Korea," she said.

Nuland reiterated that in order to resume the food assistance, there should be "much more strict and clear monitoring systems."

"So that is topic A for the conversations between special envoy King and his DPRK interlocutors in Beijing, who will include Ambassador Ri Gun, the DPRK director general for North American Affairs," she said, emphasizing that the talks do not mean any decision has been made on the US side.

In May, Robert King and the USAID deputy assistant administrator for the office of foreign disaster assistance, Jon Brause, visited DPRK to assess the food situation there after the last US food assistance program to the country was suspended in March 2009.

One thing worth noticing is that during the briefing, Nuland started to use the term "nutritional assistance" instead of food assistance, who said the former is a "broader category of assistance" than food.

She said "nutritional assistance" does not only refer to "sacks of rice or cans of food," but also vitamin supplements, high- protein biscuits and so on, which are for "populations in need."

"So these are the kinds of issues that we need to talk about as we move forward," Nuland added.