Kwon Tae-ho, Washington Correspondent for the Hankoryeh reports that the US and international community is reportedly actively responding to the dire humanitarian situation in the DPRK, even though the RoK is still unsure of its response. Article below:
The United States and the international community is reportedly actively responding to North Korea’s requests for food aid. The South Korean government, however, is still showing a lukewarm response.
An international study team composed of bodies like the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reportedly held a report meeting for embassies and U.N. bodies in Pyongyang after completing a one-month study of the food situation in North Korea. The team plans to release the report within two weeks. Ahead of this, U.S. Representative to the FAO Ertharin Cousin, staying in Bangkok, said in a press conference Thursday that the body needs to judge whether aid is needed after confirming the exact situation.
The U.S. government, too, is talking about the possibility of dispatching a separate team to North Korea to confirm the food situation. The United States is insisting on monitoring and accessibility as preconditions, but is reportedly planning to aid North Korea regardless of the nuclear issue, explaining that humanitarian aid should be separate from politics. In particular, U.S. NGOs, conveying the seriousness of North Korea’s food situation, are calling for priority aid to be given, even if only to the most at-risk in North Korea such as infants.
Former New Progressive Party Chairwoman Shim Sang-jung, who visited Washington to meet with U.S. lawmakers and administration officials, said in a meeting with Korean correspondents Thursday (local time) that it seems the Americans will decide on food aid within the month at the longest.
“They say there is no difference of opinion between the United States and South Korea over food aid, but I believe Seoul’s opposition could be a stumbling block,” said Shim. “The South Korean government’s opposition to rice aid could also hurt the country internationally.”
“In particular, the government disgraced itself when Unification Minister Hyun In-taek and Cheong Wa Dae foreign affairs secretary Chun Yung-woo recently said North Korea’s food situation is not dire, and that Pyongyang was storing rice to realize its goal of becoming a ‘strong nation’ by 2012,” Shim added. “A rift has opened between the United States and South Korea over rice aid, and Seoul has also judged it has no choice but to send aid, and seems to be trying to send only a small amount.”
Georgetown University Professor Victor Cha, who takes the conservative position of calling for strong sanctions on North Korea, said during a House Foreign Relations Committee hearing on North Korea on Thursday that the United States should consider giving food aid after close talks with South Korea if the North guarantees accessibility and monitoring rights. He said when seen historically, food aid could prepare the way to larger diplomacy.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency director Ronald Burgess said in a report on global threats submitted Thursday (local time) to a Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korean test launches of missiles such as the Daepodong 2 are expected to continue.
“North Korea is always working to improve its conventional weapons, including modernizing its medium and long-range missiles,” Burgess said. “Through additional tests of the Daepodong 2, North Korea could develop the intercontinental ballistic missile capability to hit not just U.S. bases in Korea, Japan and the Pacific, but also even the U.S. mainland.”
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