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Last Updated: Sunday, 22 April 2007, 04:14 GMT 05:14 UK
Seoul to resume N Korea food aid
File photo: Bags of fertiliser aid are loaded on to South Korean ships for the North
Aid shipments will begin arriving in North Korea in May
South Korea has agreed to send 400,000 tonnes of rice to North Korea, after five days of talks in Pyongyang.

There was no reference in the final communique to the North's nuclear programme, which has been the focus of intense international negotiations.

However South Korean officials said the aid would still be dependent on progress over the nuclear issue.

The resumption of aid was delayed after the North missed a deadline to close a nuclear reactor in a landmark deal.

Bank row

Under the 13 February deal - signed by the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the US - the North agreed to "shut down and seal" its Yongbyon reactor within 60 days in return for aid.

It said it would only close the reactor if $25m (13m) of its money frozen in the Macau-based bank Banco Delta Asia was returned.

But the US says the accounts are now unfrozen and it does not know why the North has left the funds untouched.

'Brotherly love'

The Pyongyang talks continued through the night into a fifth, unscheduled day as both parties negotiated intensely over rice and nuclear weapons.

N Korea to 'shut down and seal' Yongbyon reactor, then disable all nuclear facilities
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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"

The head of the North Korean delegation briefly walked out, when the South insisted that the Yongbyon reactor should be shut down.

The BBC's Charles Scanlon in Seoul says Pyongyang badly needs the aid, because stocks from last year's harvest are running out.

The final agreement did say the South would supply the rice out of brotherly love - officials in Seoul insist that will depend on progress over the nuclear programme, our correspondent says.

The rice shipments are due to begin arriving in the North in May.

Seoul, a major food donor to the impoverished North, suspended aid after Pyongyang's missile tests in July 2006.

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