Tokyo no plan to give aid to N. Korea now

Updated: 2007-02-11 15:44
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Japan's foreign minister said Sunday his country is not currently planning to meet North Korea's demands for oil in exchange for dismantling its nuclear programs.

The North's demand for massive energy aid is the crux of international negotiations entering a fourth day in Beijing.

Tokyo has demanded a full account of people the North has admitted to snatching from Japan's coast in the 1970s and 80s to coach their spy program as a precondition for any deal. The North insists it has told Japan everything.

Foreign Minister Taro Aso said that Tokyo could give "indirect" assistance to North Korea while ruling out giving direct aid for now.

"If you are talking about whether or not to give money (to North Korea), we will be cooperating indirectly," through assisting a probe into how much energy the country would actually need, Aso said during a political program on national broadcaster TV Asahi.

He also told reporters that such a probe would be conducted by the United Nations and Japan could participate in it.

"But at this stage, Japan will not cooperate in giving aid of 500,000 tons" he said, referring to the amount of crude oil earlier media reports said that North Korea planned to demand in exchange of shutting down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and allowing limited inspections.

The international negotiations in Beijing comprise North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.