S. Korea to soon begin food aid procedures for N. Korea

Danielle An, May 8, 2019, 9:10 a.m.

South Korea's Moon Jae-in administration will soon begin official procedures associated with its move to resume food aid to North Korea, according to a Cheong Wa Dae official Wednesday.

The official, however, said it's still too early to talk in detail about the issue, as the government has yet to review the size, format and other specifics.

Moon and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the humanitarian issue in their phone conversation Tuesday night (Seoul time).

"We are at a stage of beginning a review of all those matters," including preparations for domestic procedures, the official told reporters in a background briefing.

Despite Pyongyang's latest show of power over the weekend, Trump expressed support for Seoul's provision of food aid to the poverty-stricken communist nation, Moon's office announced earlier.

Among the issues to be considered is how to deliver the proposed aid, either via an international aid agency or directly, the official said.

The Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs, separately stated that it "will push for humanitarian food aid for North Korean residents in close cooperation with the international community."

In 2017, South Korea decided formally to send US$8 million worth of humanitarian aid to North Korea through UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP), but it did not happen amid Pyongyang's continued provocations and Washington's pressure-oriented approach at that time.

In a recent joint report, the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization said an estimated 10 million people in North Korea, 40 percent of the population, are in urgent need of food.

Meanwhile, Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special representative for North Korea, plans to visit Cheong Wa Dae during his trip here later this week, according to the official.

It has not been decided yet whether Moon will meet with the envoy in person, the official added.

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