22 Dec 2011

Food announcement delayed by leader's death

12:46 pm on 22 December 2011

The death of Kim Jong il has delayed an expected announcement about the resumption of food aid from the United States to North Korea.

It was believed the US was on the verge of reaching an agreement with Pyongyang.

A hard winter last year stunted crop production and the country was hit by severe flooding in July.

The ABC reports North Korea asked the United States for food aid earlier in the year and Washington has been in negotiation with Pyongyang over the past few months.

It is believed the United States was to announce the resumption of food aid this week, with speculation North Korea would offer a suspension of its uranium enrichment program in return.

Mercy Corp programme director David Austinwork, who has been there twice this year, says starvation is widespread there.

State media announced on Sunday that Kim Jong-il, 69, died on Saturday of a heart attack.

His body is lying in state in Pyongyang until a funeral is held on 28 December.