Letter: Korea wants Britain as a partner

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Sir: Your leader refers to "High stakes in Korea, and rewards to match"; (5 August). Naturally it is the isolation, the fragile economy and the current humanitarian catastrophe in North Korea that compels our attention.

We tend to measure and judge North Korea in terms of recent history. An appreciation that this is an ancient culture that has been criticised and threatened and indeed invaded many times does not excuse the current official attitude demonstrated by North Korea but may explain why contact with the outside world is so tentative.

With limited knowledge, therefore, how do we respond? I suggest by focusing on the innocent, those who have not created the crisis, those who may as future citizens and indeed leaders hold positive ideas about foreign attitudes and foreign aid.

It is the children of North Korea and their carers who need our understanding and support now. They are innocent. We now know that thousands of these children will die or suffer appalling illness and malnourishment unless external assistance exists. This need surpasses politics and history and cultures.

Following two donations of aid last year, Children's Aid Direct is about to commence a programme of food distribution to 17,000 children in Sunchon City, to the north of Pyongyang. A grant from the European Union makes this possible on one level. It is, however, the agreement of the North Korean authorities that will make this a reality. They value their children. They see them as the future.

DAVID H W GRUBB

Executive Director

Children's Aid Direct

Reading, Berkshire

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