(WASHINGTON) — U.S. and North Korean officials will meet in Beijing on Thursday to discuss the resumption of American food aid to the impoverished country. Officials say, however, that a decision is not necessarily imminent.
Robert King, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy for human rights in North Korea, will sit down with a delegation from Pyongyang that includes Ri Gun, North Korea’s deputy negotiator for the stalled six-party talks. The State Department insists that this issue is separate from nuclear talks.
The U.S. halted food aid to North Korea a couple of years ago over concerns that it was being diverted for the military and not reaching starving citizens. The U.S. has insisted on monitors to ensure the food’s delivery, but North Korea has resisted that kind of access.
“We have said all along not only that we need to continue to assess need, but that were we to decide to go forward with this we would need to have much more strict and clear monitoring systems in place,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday.
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