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In the meantime, millions continue to go hungry, according to the World Food Program. The North, which has little arable land, suffered a famine in the 1990s that killed hundreds of thousands of people, and chronic food shortages persist. U.S. charities reported after a trip to North Korea late last year that scores of children were suffering “slow starvation.”

The United States said officials will meet soon to finalize details for a proposed package offering an initial 240,000 metric tons of food aid for hungry children. Washington has promised intensive monitoring of the aid, a reflection of U.S. worries that food could be diverted to the North’s powerful military.

AP writers Foster Klug in Seoul and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.