Seoul optimistic on N.Korea reactor

Updated: 2007-06-27 17:04
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"It seems to be a good start," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

He told the broadcaster APTN just after arriving in North Korea's capital that he would be "negotiating arrangements for verification of the shutdown and sealing" of the North's main reactor during the five-day trip through Saturday.

Separately, a delegation of European lawmakers who visited North Korea, told reporters Wednesday in South Korea that the North Korea says it's committed to carrying out its promises on denuclearization.

"We had the real impression that they are willing immediately to shut down and they will start as they promised to do so," Hubert Pirker, who led the five-member European Union delegation to North Korea, told a news conference in Seoul.

As the North began moving on the disarmament deal, South Korea announced Tuesday it would start sending promised food aid to North Korea on June 30.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said Saturday he believed the shutdown would happen within about three weeks. Hill is the top US nuclear negotiator with North Korea.

In Manila, a top US general said Wednesday that the US military would help verify whether North Korea would shut down the Yongbyon reactor as promised and if it would try to move its operations elsewhere.

"We will try to verify the shutdown of Yongbyon in support of and in coordination with other agencies like the IAEA," US Pacific Commander Timothy Keating told a news conference. "You bet, we're gonna pay very close attention."

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