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US Says North Korea to Invite UN Inspectors Within Day of Getting Funds


The head of a U.S. delegation that visited North Korea says Pyongyang has offered to take initial steps to shut down its nuclear program within a day of receiving funds that have been frozen in a Macau bank.

New Mexico state Governor Bill Richardson said Wednesday the North Korean government told him that once the funds are received, it will invite the International Atomic Energy Agency to Pyongyang to draft the terms for shutting down the Yongbyon reactor.

Richardson said he expects the Macau bank to tell North Korea it can retrieve its money later Wednesday or Thursday.

In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesman said the United States expects that North Korea will meet Saturday's deadline to shut down the Yongbyon reactor complex.

Top U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill visited Seoul earlier Wednesday and also called for North Korea to begin shutting down its main nuclear complex.

North Korea has refused to shut down the facility until it receives $25 million in funds frozen at the Macau bank.

Macau authorities froze the North Korean funds in 2005 after the United States accused the bank of laundering money for North Korea.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.