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US, N Korea Talks Help to Further Improve Bilateral Ties
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Weekend talks between the United States and North Korea in Geneva have brought brighter prospects for the Korean Peninsula's denuclearization process and the improvement of relations between the two hostile countries, analysts say.

The two sides have reached a preliminary consensus on the North Korea's nuclear declaration and disablement. The United States said North Korea had agreed to fully declare and disable its nuclear programs by the end of 2007.

After the two-day meeting, North Korea's chief negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan confirmed that North Korea had shown "clear willingness" in the talks to fully declare and disable its nuclear programs.

The United States also showed its willingness in the talks to provide North Korea with political and economic compensation, Kim said.

US chief negotiator, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill hailed the talks as "very good and substantive," and have "increased the possibility of success of the next round of six-party talks".

Besides the nuclear issue, the two sides also discussed bilateral relations, especially the key issue of removing North Korea from a US list of "state sponsors of terrorism," which North Korea is most concerned about, and the US ending its hostile policy towards North Korea.

The two sides also discussed the possibility of establishing a legal system to ensure the peaceful coexistence of both countries.

The United States and North Korea have shown high expectations for the talks, and deliberately shown to the public a warm and friendly meeting atmosphere over meals at exquisite restaurants and in their respective representative offices.

However, analysts say that though it's good news that the two sides have reached consensus on the next stage of action over the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula, more concrete problems remain to be solved, which need joint efforts from all the six parties, which are the United States, North Korea, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Japan and China.

For instance, both sides declined to explain the specific content of the "nuclear programs" that North Korea is required to declare and disable. Hill said that North Korea agreed to complete the declaration and disablement process by the end of 2007, yet Kim didn't mention the timetable while talking to the media. Hill also gave ambiguous answers regarding US compensation to North Korea for its cooperation.

On the issue of removing North Korea from the US list of "state sponsors of terrorism", Hill said the two sides had "very good discussions" on this issue, but he declined to be more specific. Besides, Hill also mentioned the importance of North Korea-Japan relationship, asking North Korea to make efforts to solve the so-called "kidnapping issue" which has haunted North Korea-Japan relations for years.

Having been hostile to each other for over 50 years, it's no easy job for the United States and North Korea to break the ice quickly. As the Geneva talks help the two countries reach consensus on several key issues, the specific implementation of the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and the improvement of bilateral relations are to be discussed during the next round of six-party talks.

(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2007)

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