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DPRK invites IAEA to verify shutdown of nuclear facilities
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10:47, July 11, 2007

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) formally invited UN inspectors to the country to verify the promised shutdown of its nuclear facilities, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday.

"Following receipt of an invitation today (Tuesday) from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, an IAEA team will travel to the DPRK within the next few days," the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog said in a statement.

"The team will implement arrangements agreed between the IAEA and the DPRK and approved by the agency's board of governors to undertake verification and monitoring of the shutdown and sealing of the DPRK's Yongbyon nuclear facilities," the statement said.

On Monday, the IAEA's board of governors staged a special session in which they approved a report submitted last Tuesday by the IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei on the verification and supervision of the shutdown of the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.

The mission will begin immediately after Pyongyang receives the first consignment of fuel oil, anticipated later this week.

The report's ratification by the board of governors provided the legal basis for the IAEA's new mission.

At the six-party talks in February, involving China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the DPRK and the United States, Pyongyang pledged to shut down the Yongbyon reactor within 60 days in exchange for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States prefers to resume six-party talks designed to settle nuclear issues on the Korean peninsula after the DPRK shuts down its key reactor under UN supervision.

"I think ideally what everybody would like to see is an envoys' level meeting built on some already increased momentum," he said.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a news conference in Beijing that China is working closely with other parties to the six-party talks to strive for a meeting of heads of delegations in mid-July.

But consensus is yet to be reached on an exact date, Qin said.

Source: Xinhua

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