The landmark agreement on resolving the nuclear stand-off on the Korean Peninsula announced Monday in Beijing is a key, but first, step.
In a joint statement, Pyongyang promised to abandon its nuclear programmes and rejoin international treaties on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the first substantial result of the Six-Party Talks since they started more than two years ago.
The United States, on its part, reaffirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention of attacking or invading the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) with nuclear or conventional weapons.
The breakthrough comes on the back of an amended draft put forward by China involving the DPRK's right to civilian nuclear programmes and a light-water nuclear reactor.
Chinese State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan said Monday that the joint statement is "a balanced, win-win and constructive document" which has a good deal of substantial content.
The progress made at the talks reflects the political will of the six parties to resolve the issue through dialogue, said Tang.
However, Tang anticipated difficulties in future talks, saying they would be "very arduous."
Piao Jianyi, an expert on Korean Peninsula affairs, noted that the statement from Washington has realigned the political foundations between the DPRK and the United States.
However, the agreement is preliminary and requires more rounds of negotiations to sort out issues like how to implement it, he pointed out.
"They are simple words yet difficult to be put into practice," Piao said.
The six nations - China, the DPRK, the United States, Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan - have decided to convene the fifth round of nuclear disarmament talks in early November in Beijing to discuss the details.
The negotiations will face hurdles including the degree of inspections and the scope of any peaceful nuclear programme that Pyongyang is allowed to retain.
But Piao said there is no reason to be pessimistic as the agreement marks the first time the two countries bridged their differences through peaceful means, a good starting point.
It once again proved that nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula should be dealt with through comprehensive negotiations aimed at addressing Pyongyang's full range of concerns, Piao said.
"The joint statement is a package of solutions," he said.
The United Sates and the DPRK pledged to respect each other's sovereignty and right to peaceful coexistence. Both Washington and Tokyo have promised to work towards normalization of relations with Pyongyang.
The five nations have also promised to provide energy aid to the DPRK, and Seoul's pledge to supply up to 2 million kilowatts of electricity -a significant amount - to Pyongyang was highlighted in the accord.
Piao said the agreement, which outlines the basic principles of any deal concerning politics, economy and security, would be legally binding on the signatory parties and will play an important role for a long time.
The agreement also mentioned what had been the biggest sticking point in the fourth round of the talks the light water reactor by leaving it for discussion at "an appropriate time."
Piao interpreted the "appropriate time" as when the DPRK completes what it has committed to in the agreement - drop all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes; get back to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and accept inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Pyongyang withdrew from the treaty and expelled inspectors in 2003 after the Untied States accused it of violating a previous agreement to end its nuclear programme.
US chief delegate Christopher Hill said a verification regime was the next step when the fifth round of the talks start.
"We are really going to be working very hard. The next stage is the implementation of this agreement. A key element will be a verification regime," he was quoted as saying.
The DPRK committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programmes and returning at an early date to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to IAEA safeguards.
The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons.
The ROK reaffirmed its commitment not to receive or deploy nuclear weapons in accordance with the 1992 joint declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while affirming that there exist no nuclear weapons within its territory.
The DPRK stated that it has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The other parties agreed to discuss at an appropriate time the subject of the provision of light-water reactor to the DPRK.
The DPRK and the United States undertook to respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together and take steps to normalize their relations.
The six parties undertook to promote economic co-operation in the fields of energy, trade and investment.
China, Japan, ROK, Russia and the US stated their willingness to provide energy assistance to the DPRK. The ROK reaffirmed its proposal of July 12, 2005, concerning the provision of 2 million kilowatts of electric power to the DPRK.
The six parties committed to joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in northeast Asia.
Source: China Daily