The top negotiators in the six-party talks are set to start a
two-day meeting in Beijing today, ending a recess of nearly four
A lot has happened in the past 16 weeks. Last Saturday, North
Korea shut down its active nuclear reactor in Yongbyon. On the same
day, it received 6,200 tons of heavy fuel oil from South Korea at
its northeastern port and welcomed 10 inspectors from the
International Atomic Energy Agency - the first batch to set foot on
North Korean soil in five years.
In other words, the first concrete steps toward denuclearizing
the Korean Peninsula have been taken.
The breakthrough may have been preceded by numerous twists and
turns, but it also highlighted the importance of persistence and
dialogue in the effort to resolve the Korean nuclear issue. In
contrast, threats and other forms of pressure were once again shown
to be ineffective. Flexibility, pragmatism and compromise from all
sides will open new channels and allow the involved parties to find
common ground amid their complex strategic interests.
Above all, mutual trust is essential. Commitment for commitment
and action for action were included in the Joint Document signed by
the heads of the delegations representing the six countries -
China, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, the United States and
Japan - on September 19, 2005, for a reason.
Time is now ripe for the top negotiators to resume their
discussions. They still need to work out in detail how to carry out
the actions that they agreed upon in February and to explore a
future roadmap for follow-up measures.
The progress so far should be commended, but as IAEA chief
Mohamed ElBaradei put it, there is still a long way ahead.
The core components of the issue include the normalization of
bilateral relations, with the US lifting its sanctions against
North Korea; the establishment of a mechanism to guarantee peace
and security in East Asia; and the promotion of energy and economic
Resolving all these issues will take time, patience and wisdom,
while new obstacles may pop up. And only mutual trust along with
concrete actions carried out by all sides will remove the barriers
and smooth the way toward ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear
(China Daily July 18, 2007)