The third round of six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue has forged new steps for reaching the goal of denuclearization, and progress has been made in five aspects, Wang Yi, the Chinese delegation head to the talks, said after the four-day talks ended.
The third round of six-party talks, participated in by China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan, concluded in Beijing Saturday morning.
Wang Yi, also Chinese vice foreign minister, told a press conference at noon that the third round of talks has reached new consensus based on the consolidation of the previous achievements.
Wang said the first progress is that all the relevant parties have offered proposals and plans for the solution to the nuclear issue.
According to Wang, the DPRK expressed its willingness to give up all nuclear weapon-related programs in a transparent way, and stressed that the freeze of the nuclear programs was the first step for the abandonment of the nuclear programs and it would accept inspection. The DPRK also offered specific plans on launching the freeze program for the first time.
The United States reiterated it would not pursue a hostile policy toward the DPRK and offered, for the first time, comprehensive proposals for resolving the nuclear issue in an all-round way, he said.
While the ROK put forward specific plans on the first steps for abandoning the nuclear programs, also for the first time, Wang said.
Likewise, it was the first time Japan said it would provide energy aid to the DPRK on certain conditions for the freeze of the nuclear programs.
Both China and Russia offered important plans and proposals for pressing ahead with the peaceful talks and overcoming the difficulties, Wang said.
"The proposals and plans are the results achieved through the efforts of all relevant parties since the talks started a year ago, and they also reflect the positive political will of all parties to push forward the peaceful talks," he said.
For the second progress, Wang said the six parties reached consensus on the first phase of the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, and all agreed that the nuclear freeze and its corresponding measures were the first phase of the denuclearizaion process.
The six parties expressed welcome and made positive assessment of varying degrees on the commitment of the DPRK, he said.
Wang said the six parties agreed that the working group should convene at an early date to discuss specifically on the scope, duration and verification as well as corresponding measures in the process of denuclearization, which will help deepen talks on substantive matters and fundamentally promote the denuclearization process.
The third progress showed that all parties agreed to take a step-by-step process of "words for words" and "action for action" in search for a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue, said Wang.
Wang said the fourth progress is that the parties approved the Concept Paper on the Working Group, which decided the responsibility and operation way of the Working Group. "This will help the Working Group start a more effective, regular and practical work," he said.
The last progress is that the parties agreed in principle to hold the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing by the end of September, 2004, and released the second Chairman's Statement of the talks, which indicated that the talks will be continued, said Wang.
In general, Wang said this round of talks is featured with calm atmosphere, substantial contents and in-depth discussions. It is positive and pragmatic and reflects the spirit of mutual respect, equality and consultations. While putting forward their own solution proposals, the parties also showed respect for each other's plans.
But Wang noted that the nuclear issue is highly complicated and there is still a serious lack of mutual trust between relevant sides. The basis of the talks is not solid enough, and there are still a number of differences and even opposing ideas on the scope and means of denuclearization, on nuclear freeze and corresponding measures.
Wang said currently the nuclear issue faced two difficulties: one is the scope and measures of nuclear abandonment, and the other is the scope of corresponding measures of the nuclear freeze.
All parties, especially the DPRK and the United States, had serious differences on these problems, he said, noting that the disputes were narrowed in this round of the six-party talks.
On the issue of nuclear abandonment, the US side put forward for the first time that the DPRK could give up all nuclear projects permanently, comprehensively and transparently, and the DPRK advanced for the first time to abandon all nuclear weapons and relevant projects transparently, Wang said. This showed attitudes of the two sides began to go closer.
On the issue of nuclear freeze, the DPRK stated clearly that the freeze was the first step toward abandonment, and it was willing to accept investigation on this problem, Wang said.
China, Russia, the ROK and Japan all agreed to take measures simultaneously to solve the concerns of the DPRK, and the United States also expressed its willingness to study DPRK 's requirements, Wang said.
Wang said the plans tabled by the United States and the DPRK shared "common elements" with many positive ideas worth serious study. The DPRK plan emphasized the first phase of nuclear abandonment while the United States plan stressed specific ways and measures for the complete nuclear abandonment, he said.
But Wang stressed that the uranium enrichment issue, on which the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have major differences, should be clarified and explained in the follow-up talks.
"The other side of difficulty is hope, and the process to solve difficulties is the process to realize hopes," said Wang. "There is no difficulty that cannot be solved, no hopes cannot be realized, if we persevere in our talks."
For the role of the Chinese side, Wang said China's role in the six-party talks is to promote the process of peaceful talks.
Wang said first, China has put forward the general goal, direction and way to peacefully solve the issue, which have been agreed by the other five sides and the international community.
Second, with the efforts of China, the framework of three-party talks and six-party talks have been formed and become a continuous process, Wang said.
He said the third aspect is that China, as host of the talks, played a role of mediating, which has gained approval of all sides.
However, China is not the dominating factor on the issue and the key was not in China's hand, Wang said, adding that China has always been well aware of this and managed to balance its position and role.
As to this round of talks, Wang said China has also done three things. First, China has urged the other sides, especially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States to provide their concrete plans.
The second is that China suggested that all sides should respect each other and their plans and the third is China mediated actively and put forward a middle course when the talks came to a deadlock, Wang said.
Wang said this round of talks is convened at a time when the peace talks entered the critical phase, and as the host nation China is happy for the progress achieved, Wang said, adding the hard-won progress has not only consolidated the achievements made so far, but paved the way for future talks, and deserves cherish.
Wang promised that China will continue to actively mediate with an objective and fair stance and work for the peace, security and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and the region.