Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

North Korea pledges to disable nuclear weapons

By Burt Herman in Seoul

North Korea pledged yesterday to disable its main nuclear weapons facilities by the end of the year.

Its leader, Kim Jong Il, and his South Korean counterpart, Roh Moo-Hyun, were due to draft an agreement today, following the first summit between the countries in seven years.

In a separate accord, the North said it would allow the US to lead a group of experts to Pyongyang within two weeks "to prepare for disablement" of its nuclear facilities, the Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister, Wu Dawei, said in Beijing. Pyongyang shut down the one operating reactor at its main nuclear plant in July after years of talks. The latest agreement commits the North to make a "complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programmes".

"This written agreement is another landmark regarding the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," said South Korea's nuclear envoy Chun Yung-woo.

Mr Roh's spokesman said South Korea was "satisfied with the outcome of the talks" with Mr Kim.

He added that Mr Roh "raised almost all agenda items that we brought" and that Mr Kim showed a "firm will" toward peace.

"There was consensus that there should be an agreement this time that presents a future direction about peace," Roh said at a luncheon with the South Korean delegation during a pause in the summit.

Still, the leaders "didn't reach consensus on everything," Roh added. "North Korea still has some skepticism about the South, and doesn't trust it enough," he said. "We have to make more efforts to further tear down this wall of distrust."

Before the talks at a state guesthouse in Pyongyang, Roh presented the North Korean leader with gifts including a bookcase full of South Korean DVDs, featuring popular soap operas and productions starring Lee Young-ae, believed to be Kim's favorite starlet.

Kim appeared animated and smiled repeatedly Wednesday in encounters with Roh – a contrast from his dour demeanor on Tuesday, when the two met at an outdoor welcoming ceremony in Pyongyang.

Irish Independent


From Belfast Telegraph