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US Welcomes Nuclear Deal with North Korea
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The White House said on Tuesday that a landmark nuclear agreement with North Korea is "a very important first step" toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"We think it's a very important first step toward the denuclearization of North Korea and the Korean peninsula," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

Snow urged North Korea to abide by the deal. "There's still the possibility of sanctions through the international community," he said.

Also on Tuesday, US President George W. Bush said he is pleased with the landmark nuclear deal.

In a statement, Bush said "I am pleased with the agreement reached today at the six-party talks in Beijing. These talks represent the best opportunity to use diplomacy to address North Korea's nuclear program. They reflect the common commitment of the participants to a Korean peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons."

"I commend Secretary Rice, Ambassador Hill and the negotiating team in Beijing for their hard work," Bush said.

Rice also welcomed the landmark nuclear deal with North Korea as a "good beginning."

However, Rice stressed that there is a lot more to be done.

"This is still the first quarter, there is still a lot of time to go on the clock. But the six parties have now taken a promising step in the right direction," Rice said.

US media point out that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has given more flexibility to US negotiator Christopher Hill to hammer out a deal through compromise with North Korea at the six-party talks.

The six-party talks on Tuesday ended in Beijing with a joint statement on the first step toward the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Under the document, North Korea will shut down and seal the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility and invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications.

According to the document, the parties agreed to the provision of emergency energy assistance to North Korea in the initial phase, and the assistance equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil will commence within 60 days.

(Xinhua News Agency February 14, 2007)

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