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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 09:39 GMT
UN talks over N Korea food aid
James Morris, the WFP executive director, speaks during a press conference about his meeting with North Korean officials for two days this week in Pyongyang, Dec. 15, 2005.
Mr Morris said the WFP wanted to continue working in the North
The UN food agency and North Korea have ended two days of talks on a future aid programme for the country after it demanded an end to emergency food aid.

James Morris, executive director of the World Food Programme (WFP), was negotiating over staff numbers and the monitoring of any future programme.

The WFP has already scaled back its food aid programme in the North and will stop it at the end of the month.

The North said in September it wanted development aid, not food hand-outs.

Pyongyang says its harvests have improved, and it wants help with long-term development instead.

Sticking points

Mr Morris said he had discussed with the North Korean government the size of a future WFP staff contingent in the country, saying Pyongyang wanted the agency's presence "reduced from where it is, maybe considerably reduced".

"Having the right number of people and adequate number of people is very important," Mr Morris said. "We hope to work through this in the next few weeks."

He also said monitoring a future WFP programme was an issue.

"They [North Korea] clearly want us to stay and we want to stay," Mr Morris told reporters.

"But we have to be able to stay in a context that will give us a chance to be successful," he said.

It is not yet clear what form a WFP development programme might take, but WFP spokesman Gerald Bourke said the agency hoped to reinstate some elements of the programme it is shutting down, such as a "food for work" scheme.

Mr Bourke said North Korea's domestic food production and bilateral food supplies had both increased recently, but that malnutrition was still high in the country.

According to a survey the WFP carried out in October 2004, 37% of young children are chronically malnourished, and one third of mothers are malnourished and anaemic.


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