US supports humanitarian aid for N.Korean people: State Dept
The US supports efforts to alleviate the suffering of North Korean people and is engaged in efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to such people in the reclusive North, a State Department spokesman said.
Addressing reporters on Thursday, spokesman Ned Price also noted the US would support humanitarian assistance for the North even if its efforts to denuclearise the country do not move forward, reports Yonhap News Agency.
"Even when we disagree with a particular regime, we believe that we must work to the best of our ability to do all we can to alleviate the suffering of the people," he said when asked about the US' position on the recent shipments of Covid-19 medical supplies to North Korea.
The World Health Organization said on Thursday that it has begun sending such supplies to the North.
North Korea had kept its border closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic early last year, with many people saying an outbreak would have been especially devastating in the country that lacks even the most basic medical supplies and equipment.
"And so we continue to support international efforts aimed at the provision of critical humanitarian aid to the DPRK," Price added, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
The Department spokesman, however, emphasized that the North Korean regime itself was largely to blame for the suffering of its own people.
"The regime continues to exploit its own citizens, to violate their human rights, to divert resources from the country's people to build up its unlawful WMD (weapons of mass destruction) and ballistic missiles program," he said.
Still, the US is involved in efforts to facilitate and also expedite the provision of humanitarian assistance to the North Korean people, Price noted.
The resumption of humanitarian assistance for North Korea also comes amid stalled negotiations on ending North Korea's nuclear ambition.
Pyongyang has ignored numerous overtures made by US President Joe Biden's administration that came into office in January, while also staying away from denuclearisation negotiations with Washington since early 2019.
Price reiterated the US' commitment to engaging with North Korea in dialogue.