North Korea refuses US food shipments

March 18th, 2009 - 3:48 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 18 (DPA) North Korea has informed the United States that it no longer wants to receive food shipments as tensions grow over the stalled nuclear negotiations and Pyongyang’s plans to launch a rocket next month.

US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Tuesday North Korea did not provide a reason for cutting off the aid, but added that Washington regrets the decision.

“This was a program intended to try to help get food to needy North Koreans,” Wood said. “And we’re obviously disappointed in that.”

Since North Korea signed onto an agreement to give up its nuclear programme in return for humanitarian assistance, the United States has shipped more than 169,000 metric tons of food to North Korea. The latest was 5,000 tonnes of vegetable oil and corn soy blend, Wood said.

North Korea has announced plans to launch a satellite into space in early April, a move the United States called “provocative” and a violation of UN resolutions. Washington believes that launch is actually a test of a ballistic missile.

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