Negotiators to speed up energy aid to N.Korea
SOUTH KOREA: North Korea's five negotiating partners will speed up
energy aid to the communist state in hopes it will finish disabling its
nuclear plants more quickly, a South Korean official said Wednesday.
Representatives from the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia
and Japan met at the border truce village of Panmunjom to discuss the
aid promised in return for a shutdown of its nuclear programme.
The six nations have been meeting since 2003. Last year they reached
a landmark deal under which the North would disable its
plutonium-producing plants in return for one million tons of heavy fuel
oil or equivalent energy aid.
The energy-starved North complains the five have been slow to deliver
the aid and has said previously it was slowing down disablement in
The five met separately Tuesday in Seoul and agreed "that economic
assistance to DPRK (North Korea) should be accelerated," said Hwang Joon-Kook,
head of the North Korean nuclear bureau at Seoul's foreign ministry.
They also agreed "that acceleration of economic assistance must be
matched by the acceleration of disablement and other related measures,"
Hwang said in opening remarks.
At a similar meeting last week the North protested over what it
called the very slow pace of energy assistance. About half the aid will
be actual fuel oil and the rest equivalent assistance to patch up
decrepit power networks.
"While the disabling has been completed for more than 80 percent,
overall energy cooperation business is going very slowly - at 30 percent
to 36 percent," its representative Hyun Hak-Bong said at the time.
Hwang on Wednesday denied the North's claims, saying some 490,000
tons of aid had been provided on a contract basis.
"We also disagree with the 80 percent part, considering the fact that
more important phases are yet to be completed," he told a briefing after
the morning session. Japan has yet to take part in the aid. It wants the
North to come clean on the kidnapping of Japanese citizens during the
Cold War era before it does so.
US State Department official Sung Kim visited Pyongyang this week to
discuss disablement work and was scheduled to return to Seoul late
Panmunjom, Wednesday, AFP