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Towards Right Direction
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The top negotiators at the six-party talks ended their three-day meetings yesterday by reaching some general but noteworthy consensuses.

The parties, namely China, Russia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Republic of Korea (ROK), the United States and Japan, pledged that they would be steadfast in carrying out their commitments as specified in the Joint Statement they signed on September 19, 2005, and the agreement they inked on February 2007.

The 9/19 statement requires all parties to shoulder their responsibilities for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula on the principles of "commitment for commitment" and "action for action". The 2/13 agreement outlined the initial steps that all parties should take towards denuclearization.

The DPRK should be lauded for reiterating its vow to "earnestly implement its commitments to a complete declaration of all nuclear programs and disablement of all existing nuclear facilities."

We are also happy to see the parties reiterating the promise of economic, energy and humanitarian aid worth of 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil for the DPRK.

Even with the consensus, the heads of the delegations didn't shy away from the fact that they did not set at this meeting a solid timetable as to when DPRK should declare and disable its nuclear facilities.

Obviously more consultations, especially within the related working groups, are needed. The obstacles and technical glitches that stand in the way of denuclearization are intertwined and it is unrealistic to disentangle the knots in one go.

For instance, the talks to improve the bilateral relations between the DPRK and the US, and between the DPRK and Japan, will be hard tests of the wisdom and will of the countries involved.

And the parties also need time to explore concrete processes and actions for their earnest cooperation in energy and economic development.

Above all, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula while establishing a pragmatic and working mechanism to maintain peace and security in Northeast Asia are what the people in the Asia-Pacific region and the world aspire.

For that, the parties involved should not fail their promises.

(China Daily July 21, 2007)

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