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North Korea meets with US as food shortages hammer North

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The US has downgraded the war games by announcing that the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier George Washington will not venture into the Yellow Sea where the South Korean Cheonan went down in March, losing 46 sailors. Instead, the George Washington will join the war games on the opposite side of the Korean Peninsula, off South Korea’s east coast, while South Korean vessels continue routine exercises in the Yellow Sea.

While the colonels met in Panmunjom, Amnesty International on Thursday released a report on “the crumbling state of health care in North Korea” that said the North’s “delayed and inadequate response to the food crisis has significantly affected people’s health.” The problem for North Korea is “compounded,” according to the report, “by the government’s reluctance to seek international cooperation and assistance” along with “spiraling inflation” that has “aggravated food shortages and sparked social unrest.”

North's economy exacerbates problems

North Korea agreed to the talks only after the United Nations Security Council issued a watered-down statement last week that failed to hold the North Koreans responsible for the attack on the Cheonan. The statement took note of an investigation, led by South Korea and including investigators from the US, Britain, Australia, and Sweden, that blamed North Korea but also quoted the North Korean denial before simply condemning the attack in general terms.

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