U.S. To Give $25 Million To North Korea For Fuel Aid

Friday, September 28th 2007, 2:38 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States on Friday announced it would spend up to $25 million to pay for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil for North Korea _ part of an agreement the communist regime made with the U.S. and other nations pushing it to dismantle its nuclear program.

Under a February agreement, the U.S. and other participants in the six-party negotiations with Pyongyang agreed to provide North Korea with 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil, or the monetary equivalent in other aid and assistance.

In return, North Korea agreed to shut down its main nuclear reactor, which it did in July, and then declare and ultimately dismantle all its nuclear programs.

China, the U.S., South Korea and Russia agreed to provide aid, although Moscow may contribute in the form of debt relief. Japan has refused to provide aid until Pyongyang fully accounts for the abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea.

South Korea already has provided 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, and earlier this month, China said it had delivered a shipment of oil to North Korea amid a series of efforts to keep talks on disabling North Korean nuclear programs on track.

China, which is North Korea's primary provider of trade and aid, has typically used deliveries of oil as an inducement to persuade its politically isolated, economically strapped communist ally to take part in the six-party talks.

The hard-line regime expelled U.N. monitors in late 2002, shutting its nuclear activities to outside view. But, after exploding a test atomic bomb last October, North Korea agreed four months later to scrap its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the economic and political concessions.

The six-party talks resume Thursday in Beijing and chief U.S. envoy Christopher Hill said they were entering a ``very important phase.'' North Korea has described this round of negotiations as make-or-break.