US Grants $25 Million in Energy Aid to North Korea

President Bush has authorized $25 million in energy aid to North Korea, providing up to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Friday this aid is in response to North Korea's progress on reporting and disabling its existing nuclear facilities.

Talks are underway in Beijing among China, the United States, Japan, North and South Korea and Russia on how Pyongyang should proceed in disabling its nuclear facilities.

North Korea agreed last February to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for fuel and political concessions. It has already shut down its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon, and has said it would describe all of its nuclear activities by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, South Korea's top negotiator, Chun Yung-woo, said at the talks that he is neither optimistic nor pessimistic about this stage of the discussions. But he added that the participants have the political will to reach an agreement.

China was expected to issue a draft action plan today setting out the disarmament steps Pyongyang should take by the end of the year.

Speaking to reporters Friday before heading into the second day of talks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the six parties had yet to agree on the definition of disablement.

The talks are scheduled to end Sunday.

North Korea tested a nuclear weapon last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.


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