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U.S. Postpones Decision On Food Aid To North Korea; Aid Groups Worry Situation Could Worsen

“Humanitarian groups fear that the death of Kim Jong-il could worsen North Korea’s dire food situation, after the U.S. postponed a decision on potential aid,” the Guardian reports (Branigan, 12/21). “‘We need to see where (the North Koreans) are and where they go as they move through their transition period,’ said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland addressing questions about food aid on Tuesday. ‘We will obviously need to reengage at the right moment, but … we haven’t made any internal decisions here,'” MSNBC.com notes.

“What officials are not making explicit is how the food aid is linked to concessions from Pyongyang, such as promise to halt its uranium enrichment program or to resume six-party nuclear disarmament talks, which ground to a halt three years ago,” the news service writes, adding, “The State Department maintains that U.S. humanitarian assistance should not be politicized, but merely compliment U.S. foreign policy” (Huus, 12/21). Representatives of several non-profit organizations who have visited North Korea to assess the situation have recommended food aid to the country resume, and the World Food Programme (WFP) “launched an emergency program in April, but has received less than a third of the funding it needs,” the Guardian reports (12/21).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.