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Unification minister to hold videoconference with WFP chief

All News 11:38 June 03, 2020

SEOUL, June 3 (Yonhap) -- Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul was set to hold a videoconference with the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday, his office said, raising the possibility that they could discuss aid to North Korea.

The talks with WFP Executive Director David Beasley were set up at the request of the U.N. food agency, the ministry said.

"The talks set for this afternoon with the WFP executive director had been scheduled earlier to be held in the first half," Yoh Sang-key, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing.

"It will be held through a videoconference in consideration of concerns over COVID-19, and issues of mutual concern will be discussed in depth during the talks," he added.

However, he did not elaborate further on what specific issue will be discussed.

The videoconference comes as North Korea is facing chronic food shortages that could be aggravated by the global coronavirus pandemic as Pyongyang earlier closed its border with China, which might be hampering regular shipments of food imports.

Beasley visited South Korea in May last year and met Kim and other government officials and expressed concerns over the North's food shortages.

His visit to Seoul followed a gloomy report by the agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization on food situations in North Korea.

About a month later, the Seoul government announced a plan to send 50,000 tons of rice to North Korea through the WFP, though its shipment has not been made amid chilled inter-Korean relations.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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