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North Korea might have helped train and equip Hizbullah, improving their capabilities ahead of the Second Lebanon War, according to a new Congressional report.
The report, whose contents Reuters reported Thursday, refers to "reputable sources" who tell of Pyongyang's aid to the Islamic organization, which is on the US's terror list.
The Congressional Research Service, which uses independent analysis to compile information for use by Congress, seemed to rely on accounts published by various international media outlets.
A French publication assessed that the North Korean training "significantly improved Hizbullah's ability to fight the Israelis" during the 2006 war, Reuters quoted from the document.
The report comes at a difficult time for the Bush administration, which has been facing attacks, primarily on the Right, for its continued negotiations with North Korea despite suggestions that Pyongyang supplied Syria with assistance in developing a nuclear program.
Those allegations were made following Israel's attack on an alleged nuclear facility in Syria this September.
Critics of the US diplomatic effort say America should either halt, scale back or toughen its stance over dismantling North Korea's nuclear program until it better proves compliance with nonproliferation requirements.
Just this week, US officials suggested that any past nuclear cooperation between North Korea and Syria would not scuttle nuclear disarmament talks with Pyongyang, provided North Korea proved that no cooperation was taking place now.
Christopher Hill, the chief American envoy at the six-nation talks on dismantling the North Korean nuclear program, said Wednesday after a closed-door meeting with US senators that the country needed to make sure "that proliferation issues, whether they have existed in the past or not, certainly don't exist in the present or in the future."
The Bush administration has refused to publicly comment on the matter, and Hill would not discuss Syria specifically.
But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) told reporters after the briefing, "I came away with the sense that whatever, if anything, had occurred in the past, it is not occurring now, and I think our negotiators feel that with good confidence."
When asked if North Korea must detail any cooperation with Syria in a declaration outlining all its nuclear programs due by year-end, Hill said, "All programs need to be addressed."
AP contributed to this report.
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