( RIA Novosti ) - Russia has called on North Korea to restore its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russia's chief delegate to the IAEA said Wednesday.
"We are urging Pyongyang to resume its IAEA membership and reaffirm its participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear state," Grigory Berdennikov said, adding that he welcomed the decision by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to visit North Korea later this month.
He said that Russia, as a party to the six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program, is satisfied with the results of the latest, fifth round.
The latest round of the talks, involving North and South Korea, the U.S., Japan, China and Russia, was held February 8- 13 in Beijing and ended with the adoption of a plan of initial steps on Pyongyang's nuclear disarmament.
Ahead of the next round, scheduled for March 19, negotiators have set up five working groups to help the parties along the way toward implementing the September 2005 agreement.
In September 2005, Pyongyang promised to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for aid and security guarantees. The negotiations broke off later that year when Washington blocked the regime's $24 million account at a Macao bank over alleged counterfeiting and money laundering.
They did not resume until December 2006, two months after North Korea reported carrying out its first nuclear bomb test.
Following the latest round of the six-nation talks, Russia, the United States, South Korea and China agreed to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea, and North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, while Washington pledged to strike North Korea off its list of countries sponsoring terrorism and to lift financial sanctions on Pyongyang.