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DPRK' s suspension of nuclear activities raises hopes for six-party talks

By Ran Wei (Xinhua)

15:41, March 01, 2012

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said Wednesday that it would suspend nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment activities as agreed with the United States in recent bilateral talks.

Experts here believe that the announcement is both encouraging and significant, raising real hopes for the revival of the long-stalled six-party talks and presenting an opportunity to reduce tensions on the Korean peninsular.

Earlier the day, a DPRK foreign ministry spokesman told the official news agency KCNA: "The DPRK, upon request by the U.S. and with a view to maintaining a positive atmosphere for the DPRK-U.S. high-level talks, agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment activity at Nyongbyon and will allow the IAEA to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment while productive dialogues continue."

Almost simultaneously in Washington, the U.S. government confirmed DPRK's announcement. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that it reflected "important, if limited, progress," despite Washington's ongoing "profound concerns" regarding DPRK's behaviors.

At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a relatively positive response, described DPRK's move as a "modest first step in the right direction".

Analysts here in the United States viewed DPRK's decision to suspend nuclear activities as an indication of easing tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.

Ted Carpenter, senior fellow with the Washington-based Cato Institute, saw the moratorium on nuclear and missile activities and the agreement for UN inspections as both "encouraging and significant."

"It suggests that the new DPRK leadership may be willing to be more flexible on these issues, and that aspect has the potential to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula," he told Xinhua.

The announcement came after the DPRK and U.S. delegations met in Beijing on Feb. 23-24 for the third round of exploratory talks in an effort to resume the six-party talks. The two sides had previously met in July and October last year in New York and Geneva respectively.

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