N. Korea accepts food from South, says shortages could worsen
New aid only enough to feed 3% of population
In this story:
July 25, 1997
Web posted at: 2:14 p.m. EDT (1814 GMT)
BEIJING (CNN) -- North Korea, where untold numbers of people
are starving, agreed Friday to accept new food shipments from
Red Cross negotiators from the two countries, meeting at a
Beijing hotel, needed just 10 minutes to reach the final
agreement following lengthy talks Wednesday and Thursday.
The North, which declined offers of food and clothing, said
food shortages could worsen because of a drought that has hit
key farming areas.
Pyongyang rejected Seoul's request to let donors specify who
will get the new aid shipments -- $10 million worth of corn
bought from China. It will feed 740,000 North Koreans, or
about 3 percent of the population, between July and November,
according an official with the International Federation of
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Still more food sought
Separately, South Korea said on Friday it had completed
loading 300 tons of powdered milk onto a ship for delivery to
International aid agencies are also stepping up food appeals
for the North, warning of imminent starvation, particularly
among young children who are most at risk.
It's estimated that one-third of North Korean children under
the age of 6 are malnourished.
South Korea already has sent 50,000 tons of grain under an
agreement signed in May. The United States, Japan, China and
other countries have donated several hundred thousand tons
The United States this month nearly doubled its total food
aid to North Korea to $52 million.
First floods, now drought
Two years of flooding and bad harvests, after years of
agricultural mismanagement, have sent farming conditions in
the North from bad to worse.
Now, a lack rain at the height of the growing season has
affected hundreds of thousands of acres of crops in the
communist country, said Choe Gyung Rin, secretary-general of
the North Korean Red Cross.
The South rejected a request from the North for rice -- which
can be stored longer than corn -- because of disagreement
over monitoring procedures to assure the food would not be
diverted to the military.
However, Pyongyang agreed to allow the IFRC to expand its
monitoring operations beyond the 19 North Korean counties
where it currently is allowed to function.
The South had pushed for a deal that would designate
individual families for food relief and allow South Korean
reporters to monitor deliveries. The North refused.
The latest negotiations, as with the round in May, were
complicated by mutual distrust between the two Koreas, which
fought a civil war from 1950-53 and share the world's most
heavily fortified border.
Beijing Bureau Chief Andrea Koppel andReuters contributed to this report.
- U.S. envoys brief Seoul on N. Korea visit - July 22, 1997
- North, S. Korea exchange heavy fire across border - July 16, 1997
- North Korean defector warns of war preparations - July 10, 1997
- Korean Red Cross officials discuss 'desperate' food shortage - May 3, 1997
- Starving North Koreans take desperate steps for food - May 1, 1997
- North Korea: Hungry and poor, but proud - April 25, 1997
- S. Korea: Defector says N. Korea has nuclear weapons - April 22, 1997
- North Korea hints at accepting Hwang's defection - February 17, 1997
- Defector says he's fed up with North Korean dictatorship - February 12, 1997
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