Seoul Claims that Trump Supports Food Aid for North Korea

Despite North Korea’s recent weapons tests, including of a possible new short-range ballistic missile, President Donald Trump said he supported South Korea’s humanitarian aid for the North to help alleviate its food shortages, the office of President Moon Jae-in of South Korea said on Tuesday, the New York Times informs.

Trump expressed his support for humanitarian aid for North Korea when he and his South Korean counterpart Moon talked on the phone on Tuesday night to discuss how to bring the North back to the negotiating table for nuclear disarmament.

Trump and Moon discussed the recent joint report by the World Food Program and the Food and Agriculture Organization, released last week, in which the United Nations relief agencies warned that about 40 percent of North Korea’s population was in urgent need of food aid after the country suffered its worst harvest in a decade, the Times added.

“The two leaders discussed how to prevent North Korea from veering off the track of dialogue for denuclearization and how to resume the dialogue as early as possible,” said Moon’s spokeswoman, Ko Min-jung. “President Trump assessed that South Korea’s humanitarian food aid for North Korea would be a very timely and positive step, and supported it.”

The talk between Trump and Moon came three days after North Korea launched a number of short-range projectiles off its east coast, including rockets fired from multiple-launch tubes and at least one projectile that analysts said looked like a new short-range ballistic missile. North Korea launched between 10 and 20 projectiles on Saturday, Ahn Gyu-back, a governing-party lawmaker in South Korea, told reporters on Tuesday after a closed-door briefing by Defense Ministry officials.

American and South Korean officials said they were still analyzing flight data to determine what types of weapons were tested, the Times writes.

If the “tactical guided weapons” the North said it tested on Saturday included a ballistic missile, it would be its first ballistic-missile test since North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017. It would also violate United Nations Security Council resolutions barring North Korea from testing any ballistic missile technology, although it would not renege on the moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests that the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, unilaterally announced in April last year.

North Korea’s short-range weapons tests were seen by analysts as an attempt to increase pressure on Washington to return to the negotiating table with a more flexible proposal following the breakdown of the summit meeting between Kim and Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February.

The Hanoi talks collapsed when Kim demanded the lifting of key sanctions in return for a partial dismantlement of his country’s nuclear facilities. Trump said he would not ease sanctions until the North fully and verifiably denuclearized. North Korean and American officials have since been unable to resume negotiations.

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