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Report That US And North Korea Signed Nuke Deal Memorandum Last Month In January

North Korea's Kim Kye Gwan
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 08, 2007
The United States and North Korea have signed a memorandum under which Pyongyang has agreed to shut down a nuclear reactor in exchange for energy aid, a newspaper said Thursday. Washington's chief envoy to six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme, Christopher Hill, and North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan signed the memorandum last month when they met in Berlin, the Asahi Shimbun said.

The report came as representatives of North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia were set to resume negotiations Thursday in Beijing on putting a stop to Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

In the memorandum, North Korea has agreed to stop the Yongbyon nuclear reactor and allow inspections by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the daily said, quoting US and North Korean sources.

The United States in turn pledged energy and humanitarian assistance to the reclusive state, although the memorandum did not give further details, the daily reported.

The memorandum is likely to serve as a basis for discussions at the fresh round of disarmament talks in the Chinese capital, the report said.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who chairs the multilateral forum, has been given a copy of the memorandum by Hill and briefed on the matter by Kim, the report said.

The talks failed to prevent North Korea from conducting its first atomic test in October last year, and the United States has since engaged in unusually direct diplomacy with the Stalinist nation to convince it to disarm.

Under an agreement reached in 2005, North Korea said it would abandon its nuclear weapons programme in return for security guarantees, energy benefits and other aid.

But Pyongyang walked out of the talks two months later in protest at unrelated sanctions imposed on it by the United States for alleged money laundering and counterfeiting.

Although the North agreed to another round of six-nation talks in December under international pressure following its atomic test, it has continued to insist that no progress will be made until the financial sanctions are lifted.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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