North Korea to split aid between fuel and goods

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PANMUNJOM, South Korea, Oct 30 (Reuters) Regional powers today agreed to give half the aid they promised North Korea for disabling its ageing nuclear plant to help refurbish the communist state's delapidated infrastructure.

North Korea was to receive one million tonnes of heavy fuel for shutting down its Soviet-era nuclear facility under a six-country disarmament-for-aid deal.

At talks in the truce village that separates the two Koreas, the parties agreed to a North Korean request to provide the equivalent of half that amount in materials to rebuild power plants and other facilities.

It will still receive 500,000 tonnes in heavy fuel, a South Korean envoy to the talks said.

''We are implementing the deal under the terms of action for action,'' said Lim Sungnam.

North Korea has already received 50,000 tonnes of oil from South Korea. The United States is preparing to deliver another 50,000 tonnes and Russia would likely be responsible for the next shipment of the same amount.

A North Korean delegate said at the start of energy aid talks on Monday that his country plans to start disabling its Yongbyon nuclear complex, located about 100 km north of Pyongyang, later this week.

International efforts are currently focused on ensuring the North Koreans ''disable'' their nuclear facilities -- making sure they no longer function -- ahead of the ultimate goal of North Korea completely dismantling its nuclear weapons programmes.

The North also agreed earlier this month at talks with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States to account for its plutonium stockpiles and answer US suspicions that it has a clandestine programme to enrich uranium for weapons.

REUTERS SG RN1534

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