New Zealand is looking at helping North Korea pay for imports of heavy fuel oil as a reward for Pyongyang’s disablement of the Yongbyon nuclear facility, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

Correspondent Tetsu Okazaki said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington told him that the country was discussing offering financial assistance for heavy oil aid for North Korea through six-party talks.

He also reported that Australia was prepared to help take over Japan’s share in providing energy aid to North Korea.

This was Australia’s first indication it was prepared to work with other nations, including New Zealand, to provide North Korea with 200,000 tonnes of fuel oil. Japan has postponed extending its share due to an unresolved issue of abductions of Japanese by North Korean agents.

In June, then Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said North Korea had strongly signalled its commitment to denuclearisation by submitting a declaration of its nuclear programmes to the Chinese government: “It will help diminish, though not yet totally remove, the North Korean nuclear threat,” he said.

Peters hoped that members of the six party talks – China, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russia – could rapidly put in place measures leading to a stable, nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.