UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hailed on Monday the promise made by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.
"The secretary-general strongly welcomes the consensus reached at the six-party talks in Beijing on the principles for a peaceful and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," a UN spokesman said in a statement.
"This is a major step toward a comprehensive settlement through multilateral diplomacy of one of the most difficult international security issues," the statement said.
The statement said that Annan welcomed "in particular" the DPRK 's commitment made at the Beijing talks on Monday to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, as well as its return at an early date to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and to the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
"He is hopeful that this agreement, when fully implemented, will lead to a peninsula free of nuclear weapons, normalized relations and enhanced security between the countries concerned, and flourishing economic cooperation in Northeast Asia," the statement said.
Annan also called for more efforts toward the comprehensive settlement of the DPRK's nuclear issue. "Continued efforts in this direction will be necessary in devising 'a road map' for implementation of the agreement just reached."
The statement said Annan praised China for its "critical" role in ensuring the success of the fourth round of the six-party talks, which involve the United States, South Korea, China, the DPRK, Japan and Russia.