18 Mar 2009

North Korea rejects food aid from Washington

8:14 am on 18 March 2009

North Korea has rejected further food aid from the United States.

The State Department said Washington had been informed in the past few days of the decision not to accept more US assistance, which would have amounted to about 330,000 tonnes before the end of May.

Last May, the United States and North Korea agreed that the United States would provide 500,000 metric tonnes in food aid over a 12-month period.

The department says the United States has so far delivered 169,000 metric tonnes. The last US shipment, consisting of nearly 5000 metric tonnes of vegetable oil and corn soy blend, arrived in January.

The United States is at loggerheads with North Korea, along with other parties involved in six-nation talks, over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.

The Financial Times reports Pyongyang has also ordered international food aid workers to leave the country this month.

Talks between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have broken down again.

North Korea is also thought to be preparing the launch of a missile with the potential to reach US territory.