The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency will fly to South Korea next week just as momentum is building toward the shut down of North Korea's main nuclear reactor.
International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei's attendance at a nuclear conference in Seoul is not being directly linked to ongoing talks with North Korea. However, it is taking place just after U.N. nuclear inspectors traveled to Pyongyang for the first time since they were expelled in 2002.
While there, U.N. inspectors were allowed to visit the North's Yongbyon nuclear complex and reached an understanding with Pyongyang regarding how they will shut down and seal the country's nuclear reactors.
North Korea has agreed to shut down Yongbyon in exchange for fuel aid and other political concessions. Earlier this week, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il pledged his support of the process.
South Korea will begin shipping a small amount of fuel aid to Pyongyang next week.
Meanwhile, a Russian media report quotes Moscow's Foreign Minister - and top nuclear negotiator - as saying that the six-party negotiations will resume as soon as Pyongyang begins to implement its shut down of its main nuclear complex.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.