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Experts start checks on N. Korea's denuclearization

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Technical experts from Russia, China, Japan and South Korea start inspections of North Korea's nuclear facilities on Tuesday to observe the country's denuclearization progress.

The visit, which will run November 27-29, is in line with agreements reached by the six nations, including the United States, on October 3, where North Korea agreed to decommission three facilities at the Yongbyon center, about 100 km (62 miles) north of Pyongyang.

Technical experts from the United States are already at Yongbyon, leading a team which is dismantling the country's nuclear program.

In a joint statement published on October 3 following the negotiations, North Korea agreed to decommission a 5 MW nuclear reactor, a radiochemical lab and a nuclear fuel processing plant at Yongbyon by December 31.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said last week that the experts' visit is part of preparations for a meeting of negotiators in Beijing, scheduled for December 6-8, which will assess Pyongyang's denuclearization progress and consider holding talks at the level of foreign ministers.

North Korea, which tested a nuclear bomb in October 2006, closed down its main nuclear reactor in July under a February six-party deal.

In return for its cooperation, North Korea is to receive aid equivalent to one million tons of fuel oil, and the U.S. has promised it will take steps to remove the country from its blacklist of countries suspected of aiding terrorism.

The six-party talks were first held in August 2003. © 2007 RIA Novosti

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