Japan may extend food aid to N. Korea

July 28, 2004 at 5:30 PM
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TOKYO, July 28 (UPI) -- Japan may approve 250,000 tons of food aid to North Korea next month, Kyodo News reported Wednesday.

Once the cabinet endorses the plan, the government will work out the details with the World Food Program so the aid can get to North Korea in the next two weeks, said the report, quoting government sources.

Japan and North Korea plan to hold talks from Aug. 10 primarily on the issue of North Korea's past abductions of Japanese, which has been a main obstacle to normalizing bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's administration hopes the food aid would encourage cash-strapped North Korea to be more cooperative during the subsequent working-level talks on the abduction issue.

A recent announcement by the United States to provide 50,000 tons of food to North Korea prompted Koizumi to move in the same direction, the report said. However, the United Nations said worldwide response to an appeal for funds for food for North Korea had been very limited.

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