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People's Daily Online>>Foreign Affairs

China works to ease tension over satellite launch (2)

By Zhao Shengnan and Zhou Wa (China Daily)

08:29, March 21, 2012

Pyongyang agreed to suspend long-range missile tests in return for 240,000 tons of nutritional aid from the US - a deal that Pyongyang insists remains in effect.

"The satellite launch is one thing and the DPRK-US agreement is another," DPRK deputy foreign minister Ri Yong-ho said late on Monday after meeting with Wu Dawei, China's special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, in Beijing.

"If they apply double standards toward us or try to improperly violate our rights, our only option is to respond against it. I hope that such a thing would not happen, and we will make efforts until the end not to see that kind of confrontation," he said.

The DPRK will implement its deal with the US in full, Ri said.

"In order to implement the agreement, we've sent a letter of invitation to the International Atomic Energy Agency to send inspectors to our country."

The IAEA said on Monday that it has received an invitation from the DPRK for a visit.

"We will discuss with the DPRK and other parties concerned details of the visit," IAEA spokeswoman Gill Tudor said. "Nothing has been decided yet."

The visit would be the first of its kind since the DPRK suspended its cooperation with the IAEA and withdrew from the Six-Party Talks on nuclear disarmament in 2009.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the DPRK's invitation "positive", saying: "Obviously there's benefit for any access that the IAEA can get."

Washington didn't ignore the positive signals from Pyongyang, which showed the possibility of easing tension between the two countries, said Wang Fan, an expert on international security at China Foreign Affairs University.

By inviting IAEA inspectors into the country, Pyongyang hopes to win trust from the international community and ease the concerns over its satellite launch plan, said Wang Junsheng, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Chinese meditation efforts will ease the tension between the DPRK and the US, but it will still be difficult for Pyongyang to suspend the launch, he said.

Contact the writers at [email protected] and [email protected]

AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.

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