US to review curbs on N. Korea humanitarian aid


SEOUL • A US nuclear envoy said Washington would review policies preventing Americans from providing human itarian to North Korea, including the travel ban, in a potential overture to restart talks with Kim Jong-un.

Stephen Biegun, the US’ special representative for North Korea, disclosed the move yesterday, as he began a four-day trip to South Korea.

The former Ford Motor Co executive will also discuss ways to get nuclear negotiations back on track when he speaks with South Korean officials.

Looming over the visit are US President Donald Trump’s efforts to secure a second summit with Kim as soon as January. Talks have made little progress toward containing Kim’s nuclear weapons programme and formally ending the Korean War since the two leaders signed a vague agreement during their first meeting six months ago in Singapore.

Biegun said he had instructions from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to review US policies on humanitarian assistance by private and religious American organisations.

While such aid is exempted from international sanctions to punish Pyongyang for its development of nuclear weapons, humanitarian groups have reported difficulties delivering medical assistance or food due to sanctions.

The US halted American travel to North Korea following a series of detentions. In May, North Korea freed three more Americans it had been holding.