The six-party talks are continuing to gain
momentum with their resumption in Beijing today. Envoys from China,
North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the US are beginning
the sixth round of negotiations.
The strong diplomacy in the past month has paved the way for the
new round of talks. The bilateral meetings in New York and Tokyo
are evidence of the serious commitment to the agreement reached in
Beijing on February 13.
Under the action-for-action agreement, North Korea will shut
down and seal the Yongbyon nuclear facility and invite back
personnel from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to
conduct all necessary monitoring and verification in exchange for
emergency energy aid.
A major step in a slow evolution, the breakthrough agreement is
driving the negotiations forward. The responses from North Korea
North Korea demonstrated its intention to carry out the February
13 agreement by sending negotiator Kim Kye-gwan to the US for
one-on-one talks on normalizing bilateral ties, engaging in
negotiations with Japan, and allowing IAEA director Mohamed
ElBaradei to visit.
According to the February 13 joint document, the six parties
agreed to establish five working groups dealing with
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, normalization of North
Korea-US relations, normalization of North Korea-Japan relations,
economic and energy cooperation, as well as Northeast Asia peace
with a security mechanism.
The five working groups will meet under the six-party structure,
making the discussions regular and effective.
The diplomatic activities before this round of talks proved that
the February 13 agreement was effective. The first IAEA visit to
North Korea since its inspectors were forced to leave four years
ago was more than symbolic. ElBaradei said North Korea officials
told him they were "fully committed" to implementing the agreement
to shut the reactor and welcome back UN inspectors.
The international community has every reason for cautious
optimism, though the strength of the agreement is still being
Now the six parties will work on more concrete steps. What sort
of energy aid the North Korea will get was part of the working
The February 13 agreement is very significant in that it is the
first deal to implement the joint statement of September 19, 2005.
The long and at times harrowing journey toward resolving North
Korean nuclear issue and building peace on the Korean Peninsula is
(China Daily March 19, 2007)