50K Tons Of U.S. Food For N. Korea

North Korea flag food aid relief
The United States will provide more than 50,000 tons of food to North Korea in what the Bush administration says is a humanitarian decision unrelated to efforts to get Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program.

The kind of food provided is to be determined in consultation with the World Food Program, said State Department spokesman Adam Ereli. He also said seeds and small tools might be provided, as well.

U.S. efforts to meet the needs of the North Korean people and to halt the weapons program are not linked, Ereli said Wednesday in announcing the program. "Our decisions are made on humanitarian considerations solely," he said.

The administration made a similar decision to provide about 55,000 tons of food assistance last July. In 2003, the administration donated 100,000 metric tons. All of these donations were made as the United States and North Korea jostled over the weapons issue, as they still do.

North Korea indicated earlier this month that it was ready to resume talks with the United States and four other countries — Russia, China, Japan and South Korea — but no date has been set.

At the White House, press secretary Scott McClellan said: "We've been a big supplier of food to the North Korean people and the president has said that he does not believe that food should be used as a diplomatic weapon."