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Posted : 2008-12-28 19:32
Updated : 2008-12-28 19:32

US Corn Aid to Arrive in North Korea Jan. 3

By Kim Se-jeong
Staff Reporter

Food aid from the U.S. government will arrive in North Korea on Jan. 3, the Voice of America (VOA) reported quoting an NGO official Saturday.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying that the ``Easter Star'' was en route to the reclusive country with 21,000 metric tons of corn and will soon arrive at the port of Nampo.

American NGOs, such as Mercy Corps, World Vision and Global Resource Service will distribute the aid in Jagang and North Pyeongan Provinces, the official added. The State Department originally expected the aid to reach the port by the end of this month.

It will be the sixth shipment of the 500,000 metric tons of promised food aid. In May, the U.S. agreed to resume the aid in June for 12 months. The United States given 143,000 metric tons of food assistance so far, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters in Washington last week.

The NGO official also said 4,940 metric tons of a corn-soya blend and corn oil will be separately shipped to North Korea in mid-January as the seventh shipment, and NGOs will distribute them in the same regions.

NGOs have been a regular channel for Washington to distribute its promised assistance. The World Food Program under the United Nations has also distributed food assistance on the U.S. government's behalf.

The shipment will be the first aid package reaching North Korea after talks on dismantling the North Korean nuclear program came to an abrupt end without substantial agreement in early December.

In spite of the stalemate on the nuclear issue, McCormack said, ``Our humanitarian program will continue.'' U.S. attention is now shifting to stationing Korean-speaking staff working with the WFP and NGO programs at the point of distribution.

``We want to make sure as a government that the American tax dollars that provide this humanitarian aid ultimately are being put to good use. And that means that the people on the ground who need that food aid are going to get it. And part of that is making sure that we have a distribution system in which we have confidence,'' the spokesman said.

skim@koreatimes.co.kr

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