by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) March 8, 2012
The United States said Thursday it is "cautiously optimistic" that food aid will be delivered to North Korea as technical matters still had to be ironed out.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said US envoy Robert King had a "pretty good round" of talks with North Korean officials in Beijing.
"He made clear that he needs to come home (to Washington) and report and there are a number of technical things that have to go forward," Nuland told reporters.
"We are cautiously optimistic that this is going to work out, that we will be able to deliver this nutritional assistance," she added.
North Korea said last week it would suspend its nuclear tests and uranium enrichment program in return for US food aid, following talks with the United States less than three months after the death of leader Kim Jong-Il.
King, the US envoy on human rights in North Korea, told reporters Wednesday in Beijing that he would meet with a counterpart from Pyongyang to discuss how the 240,000 metric tons of food aid will be delivered to the most needy.
"The food nutrition assistance program we are here to talk about is a complicated program and we need to work out the details in terms of how we are going to carry that program out," King said.
King said the food aid would target "a million or more" people in the impoverished country, mostly children, pregnant women and the elderly, which officials have said would decrease the chances of diversion to the military.
"We need to make sure that we have the right procedures in place to make sure that the assistance reaches those we are trying to help," he said.
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