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UN Nuclear Chief in North Korea to Discuss Closure of Nuclear Facilities

The head of the United Nations nuclear agency is in North Korea to discuss how the agency can help Pyongyang end its nuclear program.

Mohamed ElBaradei of the International Atomic Energy Agency traveled to Pyongyang from Beijing Tuesday. He will spend two days in North Korea.

He says he will try to pave the way for the return of IAEA inspectors to North Korea, four years after they were kicked out. The inspectors would verify whether North Korea fulfills its pledge to shut down its main nuclear complex by mid-April.

North Korea agreed to the plan last month at six-nation negotiations in Beijing. In return, Pyongyang will receive fuel oil and diplomatic concessions.

Envoys from North and South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia will meet again in Beijing March 19th.

The top U.S. nuclear negotiator, Christopher Hill, is scheduled to arrive in Beijing Wednesday.

U.S. officials say Hill will join working group talks established under the six-nation deal.

North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors in 2002 and abandoned the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, triggering a standoff that escalated last year when Pyongyang detonated its first nuclear device.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.