US, China finalize agreements to bring food aid to North Korea

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BEIJING — U.S. envoys are finalizing arrangements for the first U.S. government food aid shipment to impoverished North Korea in three years.

Special envoy Robert King and senior aid official Jon Brause said talks Wednesday would aim to ensure proper procedures and safeguards are in place to make sure that nutritional aid for about 1 million North Koreans gets to those who need it most. The program is focusing on vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the elderly.

An agreement was reached last week for a resumption of shipments in exchange for North Korea agreeing to freeze nuclear activities and allow the return of U.N. nuclear inspectors.

The last handouts ended abruptly in 2009 when North Korea expelled U.S. food monitors.