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U.S. Senate approves farm bill banning food aid to N. Korea

All Headlines 10:42 June 22, 2012

WASHINGTON, June 21 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Senate passed a bill Thursday (local time) that includes a ban on giving North Korea food assistance without a presidential waiver.

The five-year farm bill cuts agriculture subsidies and includes wording that prohibits North Korea from receiving food aid unless the president issues a national interest waiver.

Under the amendment, which needs final approval from the Republican-led House, North Korea is only eligible for Food for Peace Act donations if the president grants a waiver.

The amendment was submitted by Senate Foreign Committee chairman John Kerry, D-Mass. and ranking Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana.

The U.S. halted its food assistance to North Korea in 2009 due to monitoring concerns.

Washington announced a deal early this year to resume food aid to North Korea in return for Pyongyang's freeze of its nuclear and missile activities, but the deal was negated by the North's April 13 rocket launch.

"So far, the U.S. administration has decided on whether to provide food aid to North Korea, based on its political judgment," a source said.

"Although there is a clause of waiver in the Food for Peace Act, it would make it more difficult to give food assistance to North Korea if passed by the House," the source said.

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