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NK media calls for all-out efforts to bolster grain production

North Korea's media on Saturday called for all-out efforts to bolster grain production while blaming "hostile forces" for its food shortages apparently aggravated by global sanctions, as well as droughts and floods.

The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, made the call a day after South Korea decided to donate US$8 million to international agencies for humanitarian aid projects in the impoverished state.

"Today, hostile forces that do not want to see us become strong and live well are trying to tear down our belief for socialism by having our people suffer from food shortages, and to bring us to our knees," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"To dramatically increase grain production is a very crucial project that is linked to the efforts to realize our party's initiative to construct a strong socialist country," it added.

The daily hinted that Pyongyang sees its fight against food shortages not just in economic terms but as a crucial undertaking to preserve its regime and ideology amid stalled nuclear negotiations with Washington.

"If the food issue is settled, (we can) guarantee stable livelihoods for people and press ahead with the construction of socialism by ginning up their enthusiasm and creativity," the daily said.

Meanwhile, Maeari, a North Korean propaganda outlet, reiterated calls for the South to promote the interests of ethnic Koreans rather than sticking to cooperation with its ally, the United States.

Amid a deadlock in its nuclear talks with Washington, Pyongyang has been raising pressure on Seoul to take its side rather than playing a role as a neutral "intermediary."

"In order to boost the mood for peace being fostered on the peninsula and to develop North-South relations, the South Korean authorities should make efforts to keep the principle of self-reliance among ethnic Koreans rather than seeing where the wind blows or following someone," the outlet said.

Nuclear talks have been stalled since the second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February collapsed due to a failure to bridge gaps on the scope of Pyongyang's denuclearization and Washington's sanctions relief.