Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on Monday welcomed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) agreement to a joint statement of principles during the fourth round of six-party talks, saying the statement of principles provides a solid foundation for progress in subsequent talks.
"This is an important first step...toward its stated commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula," Downer said in a statement.
At the end of the fourth round of six-party talks aiming to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula earlier on Monday, China, the DPRK, the United States, Russia, South Korea and Japan adopted a joint statement in Beijing.
The statement says the DPRK is "committed to" abandoning all " existing nuclear programs" and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States stated their willingness to provide energy assistance to the DPRK. South Korea reaffirmed its proposal of July 12, 2005 concerning the provision of 2 million kilowatts of electric power to the DPRK.
Downer said Australia stands ready to support substantive progress in the six-party talks, including energy assistance, bilateral development assistance and the provision of safeguards expertise.
"However, the bilateral relationship will remain on hold pending such progress," said Downer.