N. Korea Agrees To Nuclear Moratorium, U.S. Says

The State Department said Wednesday that North Korea agreed to implement a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and nuclear activities including the enrichment of uranium. In return, the U.S. agreed to finalize details of a food aid package and other steps to improve bilateral ties.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. We have learned this morning that North Korea has agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests and uranium enrichment activities. This is according to State Department officials just back from a trip to China, where they met with North Korean negotiators. NPR's Michele Kelemen has more on what could be a step towards reviving nuclear disarmament talks.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: According to the State Department, North Korea will implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and other activities at the Yongbyon nuclear facility. The reclusive nation has also agreed to allow international inspectors to monitor all of this.

In return, the U.S. has agreed to finalize a food aid package that would bring 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance to North Koreans in need. The U.S. had been close to announcing that package last year but held off after North Korea's long-time leader died.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sounded a hopeful note when she addressed members of Congress in the budget hearing today.

HILLARY CLINTON: On the occasion of Kim Jong Il's death, I said that it is our hope that the new leadership will choose to guide their nation onto the path of peace by living up to its obligations. Today's announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction.

KELEMEN: The deal announced today, and a similar statement that was carried by the North Korean state-run media, were meant to pave the way for the resumption of so-called six-party talks to persuade North Korea to permanently end its nuclear weapons program.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, Washington.

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