The visiting chief of the United Nations' food agency said Monday he is "very concerned" about the food situation in North Korea but voiced confidence that a way to ease its hunger problems can be found.
Speaking to reporters after briefing Unification Minister Kim Yeon Chul about the impoverishment in the North, World Food Program executive director David Beasley said bad weather, drought, flooding and other adverse conditions have negatively impacted the food security situation in the communist state.
"There's politics and there's humanitarian needs. Whatever we do, we will assure the donors that food or any assistance will meet their objectives, we will have monitoring systems in place," Beasley said.
Later in the day, he met with Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha, who agreed on the need to separate politics and humanitarian support, while promising to consider a WFP request for cooperation in providing food for North Korean infants and pregnant women, her ministry said in a statement.
The WFP earlier this month released a report with the Food and Agriculture Organization saying more than 10 million North Koreans are suffering from severe food shortages following the worst harvest in a decade.
North Korea, which is under economic sanctions imposed by the world body for testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, has fired short-range missiles in recent weeks, amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States.
During a phone call last week, South Korean President Moon Jae In and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed humanitarian aid as a way to keep North Korea engaged in the denuclearization negotiations.