Obstacles to granting Food for Peace aid to five countries deemed to have human rights difficulties now appear to have been removed, according to State Department officials.
The officials said that "agreements in principle" have been reached with South Korea, Guinea, Zaire, Bangladesh and Indonesia. These countries have indicated that the food aid will either go to needy people, or that the proceeds from the sale of it locally will go to assist those people.
Title I of Public Law 480, the country's foreign food assistance program, provides for loans to countries to buy surplus U.S. agricultural commodities.
However, Congress stipulated in the 1977 foreign assistance act that such credits could not be extended to countries with "gross violations" of human rights unless the aid benefited the needy.
Negotiations have been under way to ensure that the governments of those five countries on the list of "troublesome" nations because of human rights difficulties agree to this. State Department officials said it appears all five will accept the U.S. requirements.
Eleven other countries not considered "troublesome" for human rights purposes have been cleared by the interagency human rights group for the food-buying loans.
Egypt, the largest recipient of the credits, is not considered "troublesome," and an agreement was signed recently that will enable it to start receiving food.
The human rights review has held up all U.S. food aid shipments for more than two months - one of the longest delays in the history of t23-year-old program.