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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 15:59, June 29, 2004
Six-party talks grasped the nettle
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The third round of the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula closed as scheduled on June 26. The Chairman's Statement released at the end of this round of talks announced that the fourth round of the six-party talks was going to be held by the end of September in Beijing. The holding of the third round of the six-party talks as scheduled and the announcement of the fourth round session show in one profile that the six-party talks itself, which has been brought into a mechanism, is growing mature in a step-by-step manner.

Another important feature of the maturity is its reposed calmness. The characteristic of the third round of the six-party talks was that the negotiation on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue had entered the problem-tackling phase. Every move and every word by each party during the talks bore great importance on their respective fundamental and long-term interests. During this most emotional phase the participating parties displayed commendable repose at the talks, doing their best to come up with specific solution in regard to the problems with a practical, calm and objective attitude. The DPRK for the first time advanced the proposal to give up all nuclear weapon-related programs in a transparent way while the United States, for the first time, put forward comprehensive proposals for resolving the nuclear issue in a permanent, all-round and transparent way. The ROK also for the first time brought forward specific, first phase plans for abandoning the nuclear programs whilst Japan first expressed its willingness to participate in providing energy aid to the DPRK on certain conditions for the freeze of the nuclear programs. As to China and Russia, they all offered important plans and proposals for making breakthroughs in overcoming the difficulties. In less than four days leaders, deputy leaders and members of the delegations from each side conducted "thick and frequent cross contacts and consultations" on various occasions. What is particularly noticeable is that apart from conducting bilateral meeting the DPRK and the US both calmly responded to the other party's plan with relatively positive remarks. This cannot but be regarded as a positive sign toward peacefully solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula.

It should be noted that this round of talks has made commendable progress in the following aspects: each party put forward their specific solution plans; consensus has been reached on the first steps for abandoning the nuclear programs, that is, implementing the freeze of the nuclear programs and on adopting corresponding measures in this regard; the parties further pinpointed and perfected the ways and principles for solving the nuclear issue; the parties improved the play-rules for the six-party talks working group; the parties declared in the form of Chairman's Statement that the six-party talks would continue. Of course it should be soberly noted that the plan put forward by the DPRK during the talks emphasizes on the first step of abandoning the nuclear programs whilst the US advanced its plan with a view to the comprehensive abandonment of the nuclear programs. It is quite obvious that the positions of the two parties are wide apart. Besides, after the principle of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula was set how should the scope of the denuclearization be defined, in other words, should the DPRK just dismantle its nuclear weapons or should it call off all nuclear-related programs? And in what way? How to define the scope and duration of the freeze - the first step of the denuclearization? By what mechanism is the nuclear freeze verified? What are the corresponding measures for the nuclear freeze? On these questions as well as substantial matters such as the recognition of enriched uranium plan, the US and the DPRK are still in great discord or even opposed to each other. The above problems are actually the "bottleneck" during the problem-tackling phase.

The task of the talks is formidable. However, so far as the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is concerned peace talks is the only realistic and wise option. Messages from the Chairman's Statement of The Third Round of The Six-Party Talks fully authorized by the respective governments, show that faced with difficulty the parties are determined to grasp the nettle and solve this world-class problem with the tenacity and effort of water boring holes in stone through constant dripping. If the parties can truly demonstrate their commitment to the talks, strengthen their determination to carry on, keep enough patience and establish their faith in solving the issue through peace talks, it is hopeful that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the goal to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula will be achieved soon.

This article was carried on the third page of People's Daily on June 27 and translated by People's daily Online

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