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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 04:46 GMT 05:46 UK
N Korea embassy for UK
Ealing Town Hall
Ealing does not have many embassies

The North Korean government is opening an embassy in London on Wednesday.

Foreign minister Choe Su-hon is attending the opening ceremony, and he will meet his British counterpart Bill Rammell, who will press for more information about the secretive nation's nuclear programme.

The isolated Stalinist state's interests will be represented from the house of its charge d'affaires, Ri Tae-gun, in Ealing, west London.

Britain initiated diplomatic relations with North Korea in December 2000, after five decades of mutual enmity after the Korean war.

A British embassy was opened in the communist state in July 2001, while three North Korean officials were accredited to an office in London.

The leafy suburb of Ealing is far from the opulence of Kensington and Mayfair where embassies are traditionally located.

When you are dealing with the North Korean regime too often there is ambiguity, there is obfuscation, there are mixed messages
Bill Rammell
Foreign Office minister

But North Korean diplomats will benefit from easy access to Heathrow, extensive green spaces and good public transport links.

Officials are said to be looking for a permanent site in central London.

In line with the secretive atmosphere in North Korea, an official at the embassy refused to discuss Wednesday's ceremony "for security reasons".

But the most important aspect is likely to be the chance for discussions on the nuclear crisis.

Mr Rammell said there will be a "real opportunity" to tackle the crisis, which started intensifying last October.

"It really is time now for actions, not words," warned Mr Rammell.

"When you are dealing with the North Korean regime too often there is ambiguity, there is obfuscation, there are mixed messages.

"The time for that kind of conduct is over and we need some straight talking."

If North Korea showed the weapons do not exist or have been dismantled then "all sorts of things become possible" in terms of aid, assistance and meeting their security concerns, he said.




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