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All Headlines 10:44 June 26, 2008

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

North Korea Denies Reports on Bird Flu Outbreak

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 19 denied reports that a case of bird flu has been found in the country for the first time since 2005.

South Korean aid group Good Friends said on June 11 that the outbreak was confirmed by North Korean quarantine officials after several birds were found dead near a military base in Jongpyong county in South Hamgyong Province near the east coast.

The group claimed in its newsletter that the North Korean authorities were trying to cover up the outbreak. It did not specify whether it was a virus that can be deadly to humans or not.

"After inquiring into local quarantine offices, the Cabinet confirmed there was no reported death of any bird, poultry or human death from bird flu in the area and the animals are safe," said the (North) Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea has a "watertight system" to prevent any bird flu outbreak, it said, adding a state emergency quarantine committee formed under the control of the Cabinet is working closely with several international organizations such as the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization and the France-based OIE, the world organization for animal health, to prevent a possible outbreak.

The June 11th report on the alleged outbreak was quoted by several foreign news media, including the U.S.-based Associated Press and the France-based AFP.

North Korea, however, only criticized the U.S. news agency, alleging it circulated a "false and manipulated report" driven by the country's political motive "to tarnish the image of the communist state and stifle it to death." It did not issue any criticism of the French agency.

The North has inoculated poultry against bird flu to prevent the spread of the virus from neighboring South Korea, according to the North's state-run news media.

South Korea has slaughtered over 8 million birds since early April when bird flu broke out there for the first time in more than a year. No South Korean has died of bird flu.


North Korea to Attend Wind Energy Conference in Canada

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which has suffered from serious power shortages, will attend a wind energy conference in Canada in late June, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper said on June 21.

Choson Sinbo, organ of General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said the North will send a delegation to the seventh World Wind Energy Conference and Exhibition, scheduled to take place June 24-26 in Kingston, Ontario, for the purpose of exchange and cooperation in wind energy.

But North Korea's news outlets, as of June 25, had not specified the itinerary of the delegation.

The international conference, which will include delegates from more than 70 countries, is to focus on Community Power, referring to the development and ownership of renewable energy projects by local communities including farmers and landowners and cooperatives, according to its Web site.

The North, which signed the Kyoto protocol on climate change in April 2005, has an interest in the clean and renewable energy sector such as wind power.

"The DPRK (North Korea) has already selected wind farm sites and is now carrying out minute survey projects to make use of wind resources," the newspaper said.

North Korea started wind energy development in the late 1970s, according to North Korea's news outlets.


Pyongyang Holds Science and Technology Book Fair

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which has limited channels to upgrade its science and technology due to its reclusiveness, held its annual international book fair for promoting exchanges of science and technology in late June.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 23 said the sixth Pyongyang International Science and Technology Book Fair opened at the Three-Revolution Exhibition on the same day.

The North has depended upon foreign contribution of up-to-date books on science and technology, mainly from pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in Japan or the Goethe Research Institute of Germany.

Reflecting the importance of the event, officials led by Choe Thae-bok, secretary of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party, and scientists and technologists attended the ceremony alongside delegations of different countries, the KCNA said.

Mun Jae-chol, acting chairman of the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, said at the opening ceremony that the fair would contribute to promoting mutual understanding, trust, friendship and cooperation among countries and nations.

Participants examined advanced science and technology books and materials displayed by the DPRK (North Korea), China, Russia, Germany, Mongolia, Indonesia, Poland, international organizations such as the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and organizations of overseas compatriots, the KCNA added.


N. Korea Renovating Schools with Foreign Donations: Report

SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea, which is marking the 60th anniversary of its foundation this year, has stepped up efforts to improve educational facilities across the country with help from foreign countries and overseas Koreans, a pro-Pyongyang Korean-language daily in Japan said on June 23.

Schools severely damaged by last year's flooding were being rebuilt and old university buildings were being renovated under a program being pushed by a civilian North Korean fund established to support the country's education sector, the Choson Sinbo said.

The program is being actively supported by Australian, Swiss, Vietnamese and Finish charitable funds as well as Korean residents in Canada, said the daily of the pro-Pyongyang Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

Much of the funding is being used to construct a new building for Koryo Songgyungwan, a university of light industry in Kaesong, south of Pyongyang, and modernize educational facilities at Kimchaek University of Technology with a history of 60 years in Pyongyang, according to the report.

Donating daily supplies to students and educational materials to schools in remote villages was also part of the program, the newspaper said.

North Korea established the civilian fund in January 2005 to raise money necessary to improve educational facilities across the country.

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