The Associated Press will open a bureau in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang after signing a memorandum of understanding with the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency in New York on Wednesday, a spokesman said.
The two sides reached the agreement when a five-man KCNA delegation led by its president Kim Pyong-ho paid a call to AP CEO Tom Curley at the agency's headquarters in New York, the spokesman added.
The AP office would be the first permanent text and photo bureau operated by a Western news organization in Pyongyang. Curley had visited Pyongyang at the KCNA's invitation in March, as years-long negotiations on the opening of an AP bureau progressed, the spokesman also said.
Under the MOU, AP will be given the exclusive right to distribute the KCNA's photo and video data, and the two sides will open a joint photo exhibition in New York in 2012.
The agreement with the KCNA would expand its presence in the North "to a level unmatched by any other Western news organization," AP said.
But AP reporters are unlikely to get much access. A Chinese journalist based in Pyongyang said, "It's impossible to gather news freely in the North, which is an extremely controlled society. Journalists face many tight restrictions here."