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Britain Cancels Invitation to North Korean Journalists

FILE - North Korean artillery pass by North Korean journalists during a parade in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, April 15, 2012.

Britain says it has canceled a plan to invite North Korean journalists to the country for a training tour.

A British Foreign Office spokesman told VOA that London had decided not to proceed, but he did not say why.

“Following a recent review, we have decided it would not be appropriate to continue cooperation on the project at this moment in time," the spokesman said in an email. "Planned activity, including the proposed study visit to the UK, has been stopped.”

The sudden move came amid public criticism that the British government was using taxpayer money to support the communist country’s propaganda efforts. Some British lawmakers rejected the idea shortly after the government made the plan public late last year.

“The Foreign Office might see it as a blessing in disguise if they can be given a reason for reconsidering giving a group of people whose specialty is propaganda rather than journalism the opportunity of coming to the U.K.,” said Lord David Alton, who chairs Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea.

According to the British foreign ministry, the project was designed to expose students to the British media, instructing them on international reporting practices and the development of technical skills to build websites using a variety of international sources. The project involved a classroom workshop and a training tour.

The workshop was held in Pyongyang last October, with 46 students participating. The students were representatives from three different North Korean organizations, including Korea Radio and Television.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report, which was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.