The second round of six-party talks in Beijing wound up on Saturday, offering the parties involved another chance to return to the negotiation table, and marking a positive step toward working out a peaceful resolution to the longstanding nuclear stalemate on the Korean Peninsula.
The four-day session brought together China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and the United States, with all participants prepared to negotiate on substantive issues and to enhance their understanding of other parties' positions.
In the Chairman's Statement for the second round of six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, the first such statement since the meeting last August, it is noted that all parties stand by their goal of non-nuclearization of the peninsula and agree to bring an end to the impasse through dialogue and peaceful means in a spirit of mutual respect and consultations conducted on an equal footing.
In a telling expression of their political vision and courage, the parties expressed their willingness to take coordinated steps to address the issue and the related concerns.
More specifically, the six sides promised to push ahead the peace forum, agreeing in principle to hold the third round of talks in Beijing no later than the end of the second quarter of this year and to set up a working group in preparation for the plenary meeting.
The consensus on the timing of the next round and the setting up a working group is of great significance in laying the necessary groundwork for and pushing forward the process of dialogue aimed at reaching a final peaceful settlement of the issue. If they keep their minds open, solutions to the issue may be in sight.
A Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons is in the fundamental interests of both the region and the whole world.
Despite the progress already made, severe disagreements still exist.
The root of the nuclear issue derives from the remaining shadow of the Cold War over the Korean Peninsula.
A result of historical and current contradictions, the road ahead for diplomatic initiatives will by no means be smooth.
It is unrealistic to expect one or two sets of meetings to solve all problems, as mutual distrust must first be overcome.
The political challenge in this issue is to find ways to transfer divergence into consensus.
As the nuclear issue is a continuing impasse between the DPRK and the United States, extra efforts must be made by the two sides. However, international intercession and the diplomatic efforts of other countries in dealing with the nuclear issue can also undoubtedly play a positive role in resolving the issue.
For example, as the host of the six-way talks, China has been playing a cooperative role by actively encouraging the parties involved to solve the issue through dialogue.
The Chinese Government has carried out several rounds of constructive diplomatic mediation since March between the different countries involved to promote the just-ended forum.
Through multilateral talks, the parties involved can consult and cooperate under the common objective of realizing nuclear disarmament and peace on the peninsula, and uniting in the work to establish an effective security framework.
With the multilateral consultation under way, patience, sincerity and flexibility on all sides are needed to ensure long term peace and stability on the peninsula and throughout the region, no matter how arduous and plodding the process might be.
(China Daily March 1, 2004)