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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 March 2007, 06:19 GMT
UN nuclear chief in North Korea
Mohamed ElBaradei in China on 12 March 2007
Mr ElBaradei will meet Chinese officials before heading to N Korea
The head of the UN nuclear agency is in North Korea for talks on the eventual dismantling of its nuclear programme.

Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters that he hoped his agency could make progress in its relationship with the North.

During his visit he is also expected to ask Pyongyang for a timetable for the return of UN inspectors.

Under a deal reached last month, North Korea agreed to "shut down and seal" its only nuclear reactor within 60 days, in exchange for aid.

The North is to receive 50,000 tonnes of fuel or economic aid of equal value after closing the Yongbyon facility.

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A further 950,000 tonnes of fuel oil or an equivalent is to be made available when the North permanently disables its nuclear facilities.

The deal - reached at six-party talks in Beijing on 13 February - followed North Korea's nuclear and missile tests last year, which drew international condemnation and sanctions.

"We hope to discuss... how we can implement the agreements reached at the six-party talks. I hope the outcome is positive," China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Mr ElBaradei as saying after he arrived in Pyongyang.

'Incremental process'

Mr ElBaradei's trip to North Korea comes more than four years after inspectors with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were kicked out of North Korea, when a previous disarmament deal fell apart.

While on a visit to China before arriving in Pyongyang, Mr ElBaradei said he hoped the inspections would resume "in time to implement the agreement of the six-party talks".

"I'd like this trip to at least establish the framework and then gradually move forward," he said. "It is in their interests obviously to keep to that deadline, but we'll see."

Mr ElBaradei said he also hoped to discuss the resumption of the North's membership of the IAEA.

But he warned of a long way to go before relations were normalised.

"It is going to be a very incremental process," he told reporters in Beijing on Monday.

"There's a lot of confidence that needs to be built."

Mohamed ElBaradei on his visit to North Korea

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