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Thu 9 Aug 2007 10:30 AM

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Iran, North Korea to boost economic ties

Sanction-stricken nations agree to boost cooperation in the areas of construction, technology and energy.

Iran and North Korea have agreed to strengthen their bilateral economic ties, official Iranian news agencies reported today.

The countries signed an agreement on Wednesday boosting cooperation in construction and technology, as well as other sectors, the official Islamic News Agency (IRNA) said.

North Korean Foreign Trade Minister Rim Kyong Man on Wednesday also met with Iran’s Oil Minister Kazem Vaziri Hamaneh in a call for greater ties in the energy sector, Iran’s oil ministry agency Shana also reported.

“As the two states are spearheading the campaign against imperialism and their political ties are at the highest level, North Korea is keen to import Iran’s oil and deliver gasoline to Iran as North Korea has a surplus capacity,” said Rim.

The two countries have enjoyed a history of robust ties, with many North Korean officials visiting the Islamic republic. In 1989, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visited North Kroean capital Pyongyang when he was president.

North Korea has been in negotiations with the US, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia to dismantle its nuclear weapons programme in return for energy and economic aid. The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea after it tested a nuclear weapon on October 9 last year.

Iran is currently under UN sanctions for refusing to end the production of enriched uranium, which can be used to fuel a reactor or form the core of a bomb. Iran says its program is part of a plan to produce nuclear energy, while the US accuses Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons.

US President George W Bush in his 2002 State of the Union speech infamously named North Korea with Iran and Iraq as a part of an “axis of evil”.

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