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A Welcome Breakthrough
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North Korea's agreement to return to Six-Party Talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula is a favorable development.

Tuesday's news that North Korea, China and the United States had agreed to resume talks at a time convenient for all six parties in the near future represents a positive move towards defusing one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints.

The international community's affirmative responses to the news testify to the high expectation the world has of the negotiations.

China and the United States have worked closely on bringing North Korea back to the negotiation table for resolving the protracted conflict over North Korea's nuclear gamesmanship.

US President George W. Bush said he wanted to thank China for its role.

China began brokering a peaceful compromise in 2003 when the United States accused North Korea of covertly building atomic weapons and North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

China has always put most emphasis on a multinational approach, rather than the more hardline reliance on military pressure.

The decision the three negotiating powers announced on Tuesday in Beijing is good news for East Asia and for worldwide efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

As long as the talks are on, they provide cause for optimism.

The success in persuading North Korea to return to talks is a tribute to the international efforts to end the crisis through dialogue.

The joint statement the six parties, namely China, North Korea, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States, delivered in September 2005 was a matter of great relief for not only the six nations engaged in the prolonged exercise, but also the rest of the world.

North Korea had agreed to abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, rejoin the NPT and accept International Atomic Energy Agency investigation teams in exchange for energy aid and security guarantee.

The details of what the six parties are going to discuss at the future meetings of the talks remain unknown. Difficulties are predictable because of the lack of trust involved.

However, North Korea's agreement to return to the talks is a case in point of the possible success in setting up a platform on which the solution can be exploited.

The joint statement last year was a formal diplomatic document, and there is a binding force for all signatories.

All the parties concerned in the talks should now move to put the agreement into action without hitch.

This document carries great significance in providing a stepping stone for establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the whole of Northeast Asia.

The diplomacy China and the other countries involved have been doing is beginning to pay off.

(China Daily November 2, 2006)


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