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N. Korea calls for implementation of int'l aid commitments

All Headlines 14:48 November 25, 2009

By Tony Chang

SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has urged the United Nations' food and agriculture agency to take steps to ensure that developed nations implement their proclaimed aid commitments, amid reports of chronic food shortages in the communist country.

The North's Korea Central News Agency said that a North Korean representative gave a speech on Nov. 20 in Rome at the Food and Agriculture Organization's 36th general assembly, urging the FAO to "take a positive step to ensure that the developed countries unconditionally and sincerely implement the internationally proclaimed aid commitments."

The North's harvest this year is believed to fall more than one million tons short of food to feed its 24 million people. South Korean visitors have reported the ill conditions of rice paddies and corn fields due to the lack of fertilizer.

The World Food Program has said North Korea will need more than 800,000 tons of food aid from abroad to feed its 24 million people this year.

The unidentified representative also noted that the U.N. food agency should "channel primary efforts into creating an international environment for achieving sustainable agricultural development to weather the food crisis."

The FAO, the representative added, should aid its members to "work out agricultural strategies and policies suited to their actual conditions."

The North has frontloaded its efforts to "attain grain production goals to solve the food shortage by its own efforts," the official said, adding that the country will boost cooperative relations with FAO members to ensure world food security.

Seoul has ruled out any large-scale aid, in line with its support for U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea for its nuclear test in May. The punitive sanctions aim to curb financial benefits that flow into the country and could fund its atomic and missile programs.

In October, North Korea requested humanitarian aid from the South during Red Cross talks over cross-border family reunions. It was the North's first official request for assistance from the conservative Lee government.


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