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Politics of aid

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By John Burton

Lost amidst the alarming news over the past week about North Korea's test firing of short-range missiles and the U.S. seizure of a North Korean cargo ship was an expression of support by U.S. President Donald Trump for Seoul's proposal to provide food aid to Pyongyang.

This development highlights that humanitarian assistance is vital to keeping the door open for more talks with North Korea even as the U.S. refuses to ease economic sanctions, which has angered Pyongyang.

Trump endorsed the idea of food aid for North Korea in a phone conversation with President Moon Jae-in last week following the release of a joint food security assessment by two United Nations agencies, the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), that warned that North Korea faces a chronic food shortage.

The FAO estimated that 10.9 million North Koreans, or about 43 percent of the population, continue to suffer from food insecurity due to falling crop yields and lower rations delivered by the government's Public Distribution System.

About 20 percent of North Korean children face "chronic malnutrition" and the risks could rise since the country's estimated total food crop production in 2018/2019 has fallen to 4.9 million metric tons, the lowest in a........

© The Korea Times