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Korean Nuclear Freeze Could Lead to Expanded Aid

Nations in the region could consider energy aid such as fuel oil, according to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage

If North Korea agrees to a freeze of its nuclear weapons program as a first step toward verifiable dismantlement, nations in the region could consider energy aid such as fuel oil, according to Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.

In an interview on National Public Radio July 2, Armitage pointed out that the United States has always continued to provide humanitarian food aid shipments to North Korea. A freeze leading to complete, verifiable dismantlement of its nuclear program, however, would open up opportunities for fuel oil shipments by other nations, although not the United States, he said.

Asked about Iraq, Armitage noted that polls indicate that 73 percent of the population "support this new government as a sovereign government. I think we have to continue to make sure that the Iraqis are out front and the Iraqis are making decisions for Iraq."

Although there is no timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces, Armitage said, "When Iraqis turn to us and tell us that they are now able to manage their own security concerns, our military forces and our allied forces will leave."

Armitage said that, in response to a request from Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi, NATO had agreed in principle to provide technical assistance and training, with the details still to be worked out. He conceded that France and possibly other countries have differing views as to how such NATO training and assistance should be carried out.

Secretary Powell's recent trip to refugee camps in Sudan's Darfur region "had the subsidiary benefit of mobilizing a lot of international attention on the issue," according to Armitage.

"We want to bring all international pressure to bear and we think we can be successful getting Sudan to provide the proper security so the world can prevent a humanitarian disaster," he said.

"We don't want it to go on for another two or three months. It could become devastating if we're not allowed to provide food and the medicines into the camps in a timely enough fashion to prevent disease."