U.S. NGOs Call For Obama Administration To Explain Delays In U.S. Food Aid To North Korea

“As South Korean President Lee Myung-bak continued his state visit to the United States on Friday, a group of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) wants the Obama administration to explain what they call unconscionable delays in deciding whether to resume U.S. food assistance to North Korea,” Reuters reports. “Rising global commodities prices coupled with summer floods and typhoons have compounded the emergency this year, and the United Nations estimated in March that more than six million North Koreans urgently need food help,” the news agency writes.

“The United States says it is weighing North Korea’s request for new food aid as Washington and its ally South Korea seek to maintain a firm line on Pyongyang’s disputed nuclear program and sporadic bursts of belligerence against Seoul,” Reuters notes, adding that the State Department and USAID “stress[ed] … that any decision will be based on humanitarian need in North Korea.” According to the news agency, “Political observers say the food aid decision appears bound up in the larger question of whether to reengage with North Korea despite its reluctance to accede to international demands that it scrap its nuclear arms program” (Quinn et al., 10/14).