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N. Korea Will Allow Nuclear Inspections, Says Koizumi

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi says North Korea will allow international nuclear energy inspectors to examine its nuclear program.

In a speech, Junichiro Koizumi said the communist country will open its doors to international nuclear inspectors.

Speaking in Tokyo on Thursday Mr. Koizumi says North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il told him that inspections of the country's nuclear facilities will be allowed with no time limit.

In 1994, North Korea agreed with the United States to suspend much of its nuclear program, in exchange for help building light water nuclear reactors to generate energy. The United States and other countries feared the North's program could be used to build nuclear weapons. However, international inspections of the country's nuclear facilities have not taken place.

Mr. Koizumi traveled to Pyongyang Tuesday to meet Mr. Kim. It was the first trip by a Japanese prime minister to the reclusive state. Among other issues, the Mr. Koizumi pressed the North Korean leader about the nuclear inspections.

North Korea is moving forward with other gestures toward thawing its relations with the rest of the world. This week, it began work with South Korea on a railway and road to cross the Demilitarized Zone that has separated the two countries since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Thursday, soldiers from both North and South Korea started removing about 1,700 landmines in the heavily fortified border area.

That will pave the way for civilian engineers to connect the roads and rail lines in the Demilitarized Zone.