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UNDP to resume operations in N. Korea in February

All Headlines 10:13 December 26, 2009

SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Yonhap) -- The U.N. development agency plans to restart its operations in North Korea in February after a two-year hiatus, a U.S. radio station reported Saturday.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman at the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), told Voice of America that the remodeling of its Pyongyang office was completed in September and works are underway to install furniture and other equipment as well as to connect the Internet.

The office will become "fully operational" by the end of February, he said.

Currently, Jerome Sauvage, head of the UNDP's Pyongyang office, and two other foreign staffers stay there, with two others due to arrive in Pyongyang in February, according to the spokesman. The UNDP has already recruited 13 North Korean employees, he added.

The UNDP launched development projects in the North in 1981 -- including agricultural development, human resource development and economic reform programs. But it withdrew from Pyongyang in early 2007 after suspicions arose over the reclusive communist regime's misappropriation of development funds.

On her visit to Seoul last month, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said that her agency will reopen the office "with a small program -- around $2.5 million a year and a very small number of employees."

The UNDP, meanwhile, shut down its office in Seoul earlier this month as South Korea has transformed itself from a recipient of international assistance to donor.
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