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Japan to give North Korea 5 billion yen in aid this year

Japan is planning to give North Korea 5 billion yen worth of food and medical aid by the end of the year as part of a promise made in May, government sources said Tuesday.

The Cabinet is expected to officially endorse the plan Thursday, the sources said.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi promised when he met North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in May in Pyongyang that Japan would give a total of 250,000 tons of food and $10 million worth of medical aid.

Talking to reporters Tuesday, Koizumi expressed his willingness to give the aid “after completing arrangements.”

The government envisions first granting 125,000 tons of wheat, corn and foreign rice through the World Food Program, the sources said. This is half the amount Koizumi promised to Kim.

The WFP is expected to provide the food to North Korea from October. The government is also set to contribute about $7 million via UNICEF and the World Health Organization this month for medicine and medical equipment.

The timing and size of the second and later aid packages will be decided after Japan has consulted with related international organizations, the sources said.

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