INTERNATIONAL

North Korea ready to close nuclear sites

BEIJING: The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has confirmed that it is preparing to shut down its nuclear facilities, an Australian diplomat said in Beijing on Thursday.

The DPRK also reiterated its intention to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to verify that action, Peter Baxter, first assistant secretary of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs told reporters at the Australian embassy.

Mr. Baxter led a delegation to the DPRK where he discussed the nuclear issue with DPRK officials.

``The North Korean Government reaffirmed its commitment to implementing the agreement they made under the six-party talks,'' Mr. Baxter said. The six parties, involving China, the United States, the DPRK, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, clinched a deal on February 13 in which Pyongyang committed to abandon its nuclear facilities in exchange for economic and energy aid. Xinhua