THE United States and South Korea will postpone a final decision on the deployment of Patriot antimissile batteries in South Korea until after a report next week on North Korea's nuclear program, South Korean news reports said yesterday.
The reports quoted South Korean Foreign Minister Han Sung Joo as saying in Washington that he and US Defense Secretary William Perry agreed to make ``a final decision'' on the deployment after the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) planned report on North Korean nuclear sites.
Mr. Han has been in Washington to discuss the long-running impasse over North Korea's nuclear program.
The United States and its allies suspect Pyongyang is developing nuclear weapons, but North Korea insists its program is peaceful. North Korea, nonetheless, has denied IAEA inspectors access to suspect sites north of the capital Pyongyang.
Seoul officials expect the IAEA to declare Pyongyang in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unless it agrees to inspections by Feb. 21, when the IAEA's board of governors is due to meet.
The IAEA could then refer the issue to the United Nations Security Council, which could impose sanctions against Pyongyang.
The US has about 35,000 troops stationed in South Korea and has threatened to deploy Patriot antimissile defense batteries if Pyongyang holds out against the IAEA.
US, Cambodia discuss trade accord
UNITED States and Cambodian negotiators have made progress in talks that could lead toward a new trade agreement between the two countries.
The two countries issued a joint statement Friday saying they were working on a deal to enhance trade and protect copyrights. Cambodia is hoping to win ``most-favored nation'' trade status and other trade privileges. MFN, given to most US trade partners, provides for low tariffs.
Cambodia expects to be eligible to export 4,400 items to the US with minimal or no tariffs if the trade agreement is implemented, said Lou Lay Sreng, secretary of state of Cambodia's Trade Ministry, on Friday.
Since its election in a United Nations-organized vote in May1993, the Cambodian government has attempted to revive the country's economy while negotiating an end to 15 years of fighting with the Khmer Rouge, a communist guerrilla group that ruled Cambodia in the mid-1970s.