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Optimism on Six-Party Talks
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The delegates to the six-party talks are gathering again in Beijing today with confidence in a productive session.

When they left Beijing in mid-December, observers were disappointed by the seeming deadlock the last round of talks ended in. But the participants were not in that mood.

The delegates from China, North Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the United States have every reason to be optimistic.

At the December talks, the representatives of North Korea and the US met longer than ever before and talked more extensively. But they failed to reach consensus on how to implement the statement the six parties issued on November 11, 2005.

In fact, North Korea and the US put forward a series of proposals on the issue at the December talks. Their delegates were then obliged to report back to their governments before going ahead.

This is the sixth time that the six representatives have come together in Beijing to work out a peaceful settlement to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. This time, they come determined to make a breakthrough. The diplomatic efforts the six countries were involved in over the past 40 days is evidence that they regard the talks as the route to resolving the potential crisis.

The US and North Korea had "useful discussions", as top US envoy Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill put it, speaking in Berlin in January. The Berlin talks were the first bilateral discussions the two countries have held outside Beijing.

The meetings helped prepare the way for a more favorable atmosphere for reconvening the six-party talks.

The international community requires North Korea to take the first visible step showing its willingness to renounce its nuclear programs. The next move would be for the US to no longer consider North Korea a member of the US-phrased "axis of evil".

China has been working to effect negotiations over the past four years in the hope of realizing a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula as soon as possible.

Expectation that a single round of talks would find the cure-all for the issue is unrealistic. The world needs to be patient while the six nations take the long journey to a peaceful solution.

With shared determination, the delegates can prevent new problems from muddying the issue at the current round of talks.

It is too early to predict what concrete results they will produce. Hopefully, the confidence and optimism of the six nations will turn into tangible achievements.

(China Daily February 8, 2007)

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