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Powerful Diplomacy
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Pressing ahead, the six negotiators worked double time over the past six days. Diplomacy and fortitude have paid off: The fifth round of the six-party talks ended with an agreement.

It is an outcome that the international community has waited for far too long. The breakthrough is a profoundly encouraging achievement for the six nations, namely North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.

Coming to Beijing with a sense of optimism last Thursday, the six negotiators entered into hard bargaining, particular on Monday when they met and talked on multilateral and bilateral levels till the early hours of the next day.

The longer-than-expected time this round of talks lasted was a testament to the resolve North Korea and the US have shown in moving the issue forward. Hopefully, this will continue to be a driving force behind a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

The six parties have reached consensus on implementing the joint statement inked on September 19, 2005. Yesterday's agreement is the first step.

Part of the agreement, the establishment of five working groups will help North Korea establish diplomatic relations with Japan and the US.

That the fifth round of negotiations came to an end with the progress displayed the vitality of the dialogue. Moreover, the talks have very bright prospects as Chinese negotiator Wu Dawei said. The negotiations in the past six days evidenced the "extraordinarily strenuous efforts" from all negotiators.

The new agreement will give fresh momentum to the diplomatic process. This is evidenced in the fact that for the first time, the six negotiators fixed the date for the next round of talks before they left Beijing.

There is every indication that the negotiations are finally on the road to settling the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

Not so long ago, there was doubt over whether the talks could move beyond stalemate. The successful end of the fifth round will rebuild the international community's confidence in the mechanism.

While different concerns remain among the six parties, they have been working hard to reduce the differences.

Yesterday's agreement heralded a new and, hopefully, far-reaching renewal of the six-party talks.

(China Daily February 14, 2007)

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