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North Korea warns of food crisis, slashes rations before next leaders' summit

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North Korea warns of food crisis, slashes rations before next leaders' summit

North Korea warns of food crisis, slashes rations before next leaders' summit

North Korea has warned that it is facing a food shortfall and has been forced to almost halve rations, blaming high temperatures, drought, floods and sanctions.

Justin Solomon reports.

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North Korea warns of food crisis, slashes rations before next leaders' summit

North Korea is urging the United Nations to help with a food crisis.

It says its facing shortages after a bad harvest making tough sanctions on the isolated country even worse.

That's according to a memo to the UN seen by Reuters on Thursday (February 21).

Pyongyang says floods, drought and extreme weather mean its been forced to slash rations by half.

The news comes less than week before leader Kim Jong Un sits for his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Reuters' Josh Smith reports the timing may be strategic.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS KOREA SENIOR CORRESPONDENT JOSH SMITH, SAYING: "Many of the observers we talked to did see the release of this memo as part of North Koreas negotiating strategy as it comes to the table with the United States.

It has made the case why it believes it deserves a lifting of these sanctions which were imposed over its nuclear weapons program as well as some human rights abuses." Washington has been demanding that North Korea give up a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States, while North Korea has been seeking a lifting of punishing sanctions, a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War and security guarantees.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS KOREA SENIOR CORRESPONDENT JOSH SMITH, SAYING: "This is seen as their part of their effort to not only say they have taken steps that deserve having those sanctions lifted but also painting those sanctions as inhuman and harming the ordinary people who live in North Korea" Last year, humanitarian aid nearly ground to a halt as the U.S. stepped up sanctions.

Measures that targeted banks, shipping, and a U.S. citizen travel ban effectively shut down relief groups.

And a UN spokesman said Thursday more than 10 million people, nearly half of North Korea are in need, and around 40 percent are undernourished.




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