S. Korea’s potential food aid to the North not likely to bring breakthrough in stalled …

S. Korea’s potential food aid to the North not likely to bring breakthrough in stalled …


In his phone call earlier this week with South
Korean President Moon Jae-in, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed support for sending
food aid to North Korea. Now, the big question is whether this gesture
of food for North Korea will help bring it back to talks. Time will tell, but in the mean time, South
Korea has started the process of getting the aid ready, which includes deciding how much
to send. Our Lee Ji-won has more. As South Korea and the U.S. reaffirmed their
support for food aid to North Korea, Seoul has announced its plans to begin reviewing
the process of sending the aid. A key Blue House official told reporters Wednesday
that it is now starting to review the humanitarian food aid to the North. Seoul’s Unification Ministry also said that
it will proceed with the aid, through close coordination with the international community. But it added that it’s not yet at a stage
to share how much aid will be given or how it will be delivered. The United Nations World Food Programme and
Food and Agriculture Organization conducted an on-site assessment in April,… and according
to that assessment, 10 million people, about 40-percent of North Korea’s population, are
suffering from food shortages caused by heatwaves, floods and landslides. Roughly 1-point-4 million tons of food aid
is said to be needed. North Korea also requested support from international
organizations. Up until 2016, South Korea had, through international
organizations including the World Food Programme, been providing the North with aid worth an
annual average of 11-point-8 million U.S. dollars. The current Moon administration had also planned
to provide the North with aid worth 8 million U.S. dollars through UNICEF and the World
Food Programme in 2017. But due to increased tensions with the North
that year,… the plan was never carried out,… and was eventually scrapped. And now with South Korea and the U.S. showing
willingness and support in providing the North with food assistance, there are hopes that
this could lead to some progress in the current stalemate between Pyeongyang and Washington. However, experts are skeptical about whether
this could actually bring the North back to the negotiating table, and lead to a breakthrough
in the denuclearization talks. “The humanitarian aid was already an exemption
from the UN sanctions. Providing the North with food assistance is
not significant enough to change the North’s attitude.” The expert however added that North Korea
previously responded to the food aid with humanitarian inter-Korean exchanges such as
reunions for separated families. Thus, with inter-Korean exchanges at a standstill,
the aid may be able to spark something on that front. Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.