Associated Press news agency opens North Korea bureau

Associated Press President Tom Curley and Korean Central News Agency President Kim Pyong-ho outside the new AP office in Pyongyang, North Korea on 16 January 2012
Image caption The new bureau will be staffed by two North Korean journalists and supervised from Seoul

The Associated Press news agency has formally opened a news bureau in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

It is the first major Western news organisation to do so, although agencies such as China's Xinhua also have a presence there.

AP president Tom Curley said the bureau would operate under the same standards as other bureaux worldwide.

All media outlets in North Korea are state-run. Most citizens have no access to the internet or foreign media.

Visits by most foreign journalists are severely restricted and, if granted a visa, reporters are accompanied by government minders to carefully selected locations.

AP said that the bureau would have two permanent North Korean reporters and would be supervised by two Seoul-based US journalists who would make regular visits.

The news agency first established a presence in Pyongyang in 2006, when it opened a video bureau.

The US and North Korea do not have formal diplomatic ties. But the president of state-run KCNA news agency, Kim Pyong-ho, said the two sides had "been able to find a way to understand one another and to cooperate closely enough to open an AP bureau".

The move comes a month after the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. His third son, Kim Jong-un, has been installed as his successor.