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February 12, 2007

North Korea Defused?

Crisis averted, for the fifteenth time. It's becoming predictable.

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement on initial steps for North Korea's nuclear disarmament, the U.S. envoy to the talks said Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the agreement outlined specific commitments for North Korea and would set up working groups to implement those goals to begin meeting in about a month. He declined to give other details.

"I'm encouraged by this that we were able to take a step forward on the denuclearization issue," Hill said.

The agreement could mark the first step toward disarmament in more than three years of inconclusive negotiations and deadlock. The process reached its lowest point in October when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test explosion.

The draft agreement came after 16 hours of what Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang called "extraordinarily intensive consultations" on the fifth day of talks.

"Some positive results have been achieved," Qin said, but added that the negotiators would have to meet again later Tuesday in Beijing.

Japan's chief envoy said it was "too early to tell" if his government was satisfied with the deal.

"I believe that countries have compromised somewhat toward an agreement," Kenichiro Sasae said, declining to give any specifics.

I doubt it.


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