any letters I missed in that title?

From the Korea Times:

WFP Asks South Korea to Contribute Food to North
By Christopher Carpenter

A representative of the United Nations World Food Program said on Friday that South Korea was considered a potential donor in the new North Korean food aid program.
At a press conference in Seoul, Tony Banbury, the WFP’s regional director for Asia, said he met with officials Friday at the South Korean Ministry of Unification and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about contributing to the program.

“Our discussions were very positive,’’ Banbury said. “They are ongoing and I think I’ll leave it at that.’’

Bae Young-han, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that while he could not confirm the meeting with Banbury, South Korea was discussing participating in the WFP effort.

“In the past, we contributed through the WFP channel,’’ Bae said.

Banbury came to Seoul on the heels of signing a letter of understanding with Pyongyang Wednesday to resume aid to the North. It was discontinued in December 2005 when North Korea asked that food aid be replaced with developmental aid.

Banbury said assistance will not be on the scale it was when they left North Korea last year, but that the assistance being provided was better than discontinuing the program completely. Around 1.9 million people will benefit under the new agreement, down from the 6.5 million the WFP was feeding when it left in December.

“The alternative to this was closing down the operation entirely and walking away,’’ he said.

The new program will provide three types of assistance. Roughly half of the 150,000 tons of food that will go to the North over the next two years will be designated for pregnant and nursing mothers, and for babies that are younger than six months of age.

Primary aged school children will receive daily packages of enriched biscuits that provide 75 percent of their daily vitamin and mineral requirements. Finally, communities involved in projects that will increase their ability to produce food will be rewarded with food aid.

“As they do the work, we will pay them in food,’’ Banbury said.

The new program, which Banbury said the North considers a transitional program that will lead to development aid, allows the 10 WFP staff who will be in North Korea to monitor the food distribution system.

The staff will have access to the institutions where food is being distributed, to the community development projects, to areas of the country that may need further assistance and to the logistical operation that brings food into the country and stores it.

Banbury said the WFP would strictly enforce its monitoring policy of “no access-no food.’’

While Banbury said North Korean officials never admitted they needed emergency food assistance, the WFP offered to increase the scope of the program if it were wanted.

“That’s a conversation we might continue in the future,’’ he said.


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