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North Korea Studying South's Offer of Energy for End to Nuclear Drive  

North Korea Studying South's Offer of Energy for End to Nuclear Drive

VIENTIANE, July 28, 2005 (AFP) - North Korea Thursday praised South Korea's offer of energy aid in exchange for the dismantling of its nuclear weapons programme and said it was studying the proposal, officials said. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon gave details of the offer to North Korea's Paek Nam-Sun during their first meeting in more than a year, South Korea officials said. Ban "explained in detail" South Korea's proposal last month to supply 2,000 megawatts of electricity in return for energy-starved North Korea scrapping its nuclear programme. "This was proposed to promote South and North Korea relations. We had in mind the solving of the energy problem of North Korea," said a South Korean official who was in the talks. "Mr Paek said that he appreciates the efforts of South Korea and he hoped to develop the proposal further between both sides," he said. The ministers also agreed to work to speed up six-nation talks under way in Beijing to achieve the "ultimate goal of denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," said Chung Song-il, a spokesman for the North Korean side. Before going into the talks, Ban said relations between North and South Korea were the best they had ever been. "The relationship between North and South Korea is progressing better than at any other time," Ban told reporters in translated remarks. A North Korean spokesman said both ministers "reached a common understanding" about the development of their relations. They pledged to "work together in international fora, including the United Nations and the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum), holding the interest of their nations as primary," Chung said. The ministers met on the sidelines of meetings of the ARF, Asia's top security forum, in the Lao capital Vientiane while the nuclear talks in Beijing were in their third day. The nuclear talks bring together China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the United States. "We are trying to make real progress in the six-party talks," Paek said. The two Koreas have been technically at war since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty. They agreed last month to resume general-level talks, which were suspended a year ago after a second round of negotiations. Military officials from both sides agreed this month to resume stalled work on dismantling propaganda material on their border, which is dotted with billboard, posters and loudspeakers. jvg/br/sm

Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2005
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