WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 (Yonhap) -- A former U.S. envoy for North Korean human rights issues said Wednesday that humanitarian aid to the impoverished country should continue despite the threat of its nuclear weapons program.

Robert King, who served as the State Department envoy from 2009 to 2017, issued the appeal in a commentary for the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, where he is currently a senior adviser.

"For much of the past year, international attention on North Korea has focused on its aggressive nuclear and missile programs and how to engage with the North in ways that will reduce the risk of armed conflict and eliminate nuclear weapons," King wrote. "Humanitarian engagement, which was a major element in the U.S. and South Korean relations with North Korea two decades ago, has significantly declined in importance."

Source: Yonhap News Agency