By Hwang Doo-hyong
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has agreed to invite Belarus to the nuclear security summit in Seoul in 2012 if the former Soviet republic implements its pledge to abandon stocks of highly enriched uranium inherited from the Soviet Union, the White House said Wednesday.
"The Republic of Korea, as host of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, has agreed to invite Belarus, contingent upon the completion of its highly enriched uranium removals," spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "They will be extending an invitation to Belarus to participate in the next Nuclear Security Summit if they follow through on their commitment that they've made to the secretary of state to remove all their highly enriched uranium."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov on the margins of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, earlier in the day to agree that Belarus will eliminate the uranium by 2012 in exchange for financial and technical assistance from the U.S.
Belarus for years has resisted international pressure to abandon hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium.
"Belarus has agreed to eliminate all its stocks of highly enriched uranium by the time of the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2012," Gibbs said. "This removal represents a significant, as I said, step forward in President Obama's worldwide effort to secure nuclear material."
The spokesman said the Obama administration "intends to provide technical and financial assistance to support this effort."