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Hopes raised after NKorea invites UN inspectors

June 17, 2007
"We welcome the North Korean move as good news,"
- South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Han Hye-Jin

Seoul - Hopes were raised Sunday that North Korea would soon begin dismantling its atomic weapons programmes, after the communist state invited UN inspectors to discuss shutting down its main nuclear reactor.

The North said Saturday it had sent a letter inviting the UN nuclear watchdog to discuss the shutdown, adding that a banking dispute with the United States which had blocked a February disarmament pact was almost over.

South Korea on Sunday hailed Pyongyang's invitation to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a move also praised by Washington amid optimism that the disarmament process would now gain momentum.

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