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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 July 2007, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Kim 'urges nuclear disarmament'
Kim Jong-il (archive photo)
Mr Kim rarely makes public comments about the nuclear programme
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il has called on all parties involved in the nuclear disarmament deal to follow through on their pledges, reports say.

In rare comments on the issue, reported by China's official Xinhua news agency, he said there were signs that tensions on the Korean peninsula were easing.

His remarks were made in a meeting with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Earlier, a UN nuclear watchdog report said Pyongyang had agreed measures over the shutdown of its nuclear facilities.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) outlined the steps its inspectors had agreed with Pyongyang during a visit last week.

North Korea's nuclear programme has long caused international concern.

But hopes are high that a landmark deal agreed in February - that Pyongyang would "shut down and seal" its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in exchange for aid - will be carried out.

Verification

"Recently there have been signs that the situation on the Korean peninsula is easing," Kim Jong-il told Mr Yang during their meeting in Pyongyang, Xinhua reported.

"All sides should implement the initial actions (of February's agreement)", he added.

N KOREA NUCLEAR DEAL
North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. File photo
N Korea to "shut down and seal" Yongbyon reactor, then disable all nuclear facilities
In return, will be given 1m tons of heavy fuel oil
N Korea to invite IAEA back to monitor deal
Under earlier 2005 deal, N Korea agreed to end nuclear programme and return to non-proliferation treaty
N Korea's demand for light water reactor to be discussed at "appropriate time"

Analysts say that such rare conciliatory comments from the reclusive leader are the clearest signal yet that Pyongyang intends to follow through with its pledge to shut Yongbyon.

Similarly upbeat talk has been coming from the Vienna-based IAEA, which circulated its report on the shutdown of Yongbyon to the 35-nation board for consideration.

The IAEA, according to news agencies who have seen the report, says inspectors have been granted access to all the facilities that are being shut down.

They are also allowed to install the "appropriate containment and surveillance" necessary to verify the shutdown.

Inspectors will also be allowed to use still photographs and video recordings for further verification, and will be told if Pyongyang wants to make any changes at the sites.

Diplomats in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, said the board may convene a special session on Monday to approve the mission.

No deadline for the shutdown of Yongbyon has been given, although US nuclear envoy Christopher Hill said recently it could happen by mid-July.

He also hopes a fresh round of six-party disarmament talks - involving the US, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia - will be held this month.






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