US considering providing North Korea with food to help shortages

The Bush administration is discussing ways in which the United States might help get food aid to North Korea, the White House said Tuesday. Spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters that it is an issue that President George W. Bush "talks about repeatedly, which is his concern for the humanitarian condition for the people of North Korea, many of whom are starving." She said such assistance might be made possible through the auspices of non-governmental organizations or via a United Nations program. Pyongyang "has been open in saying it faces a major shortage in food supplies," Perino said. She noted that US officials have "had some useful discussions concerning the parameters of a program for the resumption of US food assistance for the North Korean people." Perino also said that if such an agreement were finalized, it would be announced by the State Department, adding that "there are discussions that are ongoing in figuring out a way to make sure that people there are taken care of." "The president thinks that the government is certainly diverting food to the military and not giving it to the people," she said. "But outside of politics, the president's heart hurts when he knows that people are starving, and especially because - especially for children, who are maybe trying to go to school."