Beijing (AFP) Feb 15, 2007
China called Thursday for all sides involved in a pact reached here this week on phasing out North Korea's nuclear programme to immediately begin work on implementing the deal. Six-nation talks, which began in 2003, finally resulted in an agreement on Tuesday which saw North Korea commit to begin closing nuclear facilities in return for aid and diplomatic concessions.
"This is an important step forward and marks a substantive step toward the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
"We urge all sides to immediately begin the initial actions and implement their commitments."
According to the agreement between China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia, five working groups would be set up within the next 30 days to begin the denuclearisation process, Jiang said.
China would head a working group to oversee the shutdown of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility and the return of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, she said.
South Korea would chair another working group to supply North Korea with a first delivery of 50,000 tonnes of fuel oil, aid and other economic assistance in return, she said.
Under the accord, North Korea would eventually receive one million tonnes of fuel oil if it permanently disabled Yongbyon and other key nuclear facilities.
Jiang said Russia would be in charge of a third working group on establishing a Northeast Asia security mechanism between the six countries.
The other two working groups, concerning the normalisation of diplomatic ties between North Korea and the United States, and North Korea and Japan, would be organised between officials of those nations, she added.
"As far as the specifics of the working groups, the time and places of the meetings, this will be decided through the consultations of all sides," Jiang said.
earlier related report
After the conclusion of the ground-breaking nuclear deal earlier this week under which North Korea will be given massive energy and economic aid, the communist regime has stepped up nationwide campaigns for Kim's 65th birthday that falls on Friday.
The country has held a series of costly gala ceremonies and prepared to dole out gifts to the people to mark Kim's birthday, described in the country as "the most festive national holiday."
Kim has distributed more birthday gifts than usual to its people, particularly children and youngsters, the North's media said.
Choe Il Ryong, the North's light industry minister, said the government would distribute new school uniforms to students across the country "by virtue of General Kim Jong Il's endless love to the new generation people," according to a newspaper run by pro-North ethnic Koreans in Japan.
Factories are in full swing to produce more candies and clothes to be given to children on Kim's birthday, the newspaper said.
In Pyongyang, a variety of celebratory functions opened, including sporting events, music concerts, art performances and exhibitions of "Kimjongilia," a flower named for the leader.
North Korea "finds itself in a festive mood on the eve of the birthday of leader Kim Jong Il, the most auspicious holiday of the nation," Pyongyang's state-run media report said.
It hailed Kim as the "sun of the 21st century" who transformed the country into a "kangsong taeguk," or a great country with a powerful military and economy, referring to the country's nuclear weapons. "We will follow the Great General (Kim) and will be as eternally loyal to him as a sunflower follows the sun," it said.
"This year's birthday for Kim Jong Il is being marked in a more festive mood as it comes after the landmark nuclear deal," a South Korean government official said. The North has also usually held more commemorative events on each fifth year of the anniversary, he said.
"Kim is expected to use the nuclear deal and his birthday to solidify his grip on the people suffering from famine and diseases," the official said.
North Korea has suffered from acute food shortages this winter as many countries cut handouts following its nuclear missile test in October. Severe flooding during the summer also decimated its food production.
Still worse, infectious diseases, such as scarlet fever, typhoid, typhus and paratyphoid, were rapidly spreading throughout North Korea, according to aid groups in Seoul. But the impoverished country could not contain the contagion due to dilapidated medical facilities and lack of medicines and electricity to run medical devices, they said.
Indicating the worsening food conditions, North Korea skipped giving traditional special food rations to its people on New Year's Day, except to the elite citizens of its capital city of Pyongyang, according to sources.
Last year, Kim reportedly failed to provide gifts to officials and citizens on his birthday and scaled down his birthday events largely due to U.S.-led financial sanctions on the North.
But this year, the North is set to receive massive energy aid and food shipments under the nuclear deal reached at the six-nation talks on Tuesday.
Under the nuclear deal, the North will be given up to one million tons of heavy fuel oil and equivalent energy as well as other economic and diplomatic benefits. The North is also set to receive massive food and fertilizer aid from South Korea which has promised to resume shipment to the communist neighbor only if it halts nuclear activities.
North Korea is expected to extend the festive mood to its former leader Kim Il Sung's April 15 birthday and the April 25 founding anniversary of the People's Army, the backbone of leader Kim Jong Il's iron-fisted rule, in order to tighten his grip on power, officials and analysts say.
Source: Agence France-Presse
Source: United Press International
Email This ArticleRussia May Unilaterally Quit INF Treaty
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Feb 16, 2007
Moscow may unilaterally abandon the agreement between Russia and the United States on the elimination of intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles, the chief of the General Staff said Thursday. The former Soviet Union and the U.S. signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) December 8, 1987. The agreement came into force in June 1988 and does not have a specific duration.
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