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N. Korea: U.S. Taking Us Off Terror List

South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, right, answers reporters' question as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economy Kwon O-kyu, left, listens during a press conference at the government house in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 5, 2007.
AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
North Korea said Friday the U.S. had agreed to remove it from a list of terror-sponsoring nations and lift other sanctions for Pyongyang disabling its nuclear facilities.

A report from the North's official Korean Central News Agency said "the U.S. decided to take such political measures as delisting the (North) as a terrorism sponsor" at international arms talks.

The North also said Washington would stop treating the communist nation under the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act, a measure that restricts trade, "in return for the North's neutralization of its nuclear facilities by the end of 2007."

It was not clear if that meant both countries would complete their actions by the end of year.

No timeframe was specified for action on the U.S. terror list in the public declaration issued from the arms talks earlier this week, where the North committed to disable its main nuclear facilities by year-end - the furthest it has gone in decades to scale back its atomic ambitions. The statement only said the two countries would begin the process to eventually remove the sanctions.

U.S. officials have declined to publicly say any decision has been made on removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terror - a designation that obligates Washington to oppose such countries from getting loans from major international financial institutions, among other restrictions.

Earlier this week, the main U.S. envoy to the North Korea arms talks repeatedly refused to acknowledge any specifics about removing the country from the terror list, one of Pyongyang's long-held demands. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill would only confirm that Washington had a "very clear understanding" with the North, refusing to divulge any details.

Meanwhile, South Korea sent special envoys to the United States and other countries Friday to brief them on a new deal with North Korea calling for multinational talks to formally end the Korean War.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il agreed Thursday to seek a meeting of parties to the cease-fire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, with the aim of signing a permanent peace treaty.

That would require the participation of the U.S. and China, who also fought in the conflict.

"Before us lies the task of establishing a peace regime on the Korean peninsula, which our people yearn for," Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung told reporters Friday. "In this regard, special government envoys were dispatched to the United States, Japan, China and Russia."

President Bush told Roh last month that he was willing to formally end the war, but insisted it could only happen after Pyongyang's total nuclear disarmament.