North's Kim Jong Il meets Chinese FM

Updated: 2007-07-03 18:24

Their meeting was held "in a cordial atmosphere," the official Korean Central News Agency reported, without specifying what was discussed or the content of Hu's message.

North Korea's top leader rarely meets foreign guests, and when he does, it sometimes leads to the announcement of an important decision.

Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan visited Pyongyang last October after North Korea's first-ever nuclear test explosion. North Korea announced later that month it would end its boycott of six-nation talks on its nuclear program.

According to the report made available to the AP in Vienna, North Korea has agreed to the following steps to help the IAEA shutter its facilities:

1. Give agency experts a list of nuclear facilities that are shut down and sealed and updating the list as needed.

2. Provide agency personnel "access to all facilities that have been shut down and/or sealed."

3. Allow the installation of "appropriate containment and surveillance ... and other devices" and other verification methods.

4. Allow agency experts to "apply safeguards" to make sure that they have full access to North Korea's nuclear program, despite the fact the country insists it is no longer bound by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

These and other points listed in the report "reflect wide-ranging willingness" by North Korea to fulfill its commitments made in February to shut down the Yongbyon facility, said a diplomat accredited to the IAEA and familiar with its involvement in the North Korean nuclear file.

The report was the work of IAEA deputy director general Olli Heinonen. It was based on his tour last week of the Yongbyon facility.

North Korea had pledged in February to shut down and disable the 5-megawatt reactor, capable of producing enough plutonium to produce one nuclear bomb a year, in exchange for economic aid and political concessions. That landmark agreement was the result of talks between North Korea and the United States, Russia, China, South Korea and Japan.

But the country refused for months to act on the promise until it received about $25 million in funds that were frozen in a Macao bank amid a dispute with the US over alleged money-laundering.

The U.N. visit was the nuclear watchdog's first trip to the Yongbyon reactor since inspectors were expelled from the country in late 2002. IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei had traveled to North Korea in March but had not visited the facility.


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