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New Consensus and New Steps

2004-06-26 00:00

On June 26, 2004, when the third round of the Beijing six-party talks was concluded at noon, head of the Chinese delegation and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Yi held a press conference. About 200 journalists from home and abroad attended the press conference.

Wang Yi said that building on the achievements of previous rounds of talks, the third round of the six-party talks reached new consensus and made new steps towards denuclearization. The meeting was peaceful in atmosphere, profound in discussions, rich in content, and pragmatic in attitude, reflecting the spirit of mutual respect, consultation on an equal footing, and seeking common grounds while putting aside differences.

He said that in sum, this round of talks have made the following achievements.

First, all the parties put forward their respective solutions and suggestions, which is a result of their accumulated efforts since the activation of the talks over a year ago as well as a reflection of their active political will to promote the peace talk process.

Second, the parties reached consensus on the first steps toward nuclear abandonment. All the parties agreed that to implement nuclear freezing and take corresponding measures is the first step toward nuclear abandonment. The parties also agreed to authorize the working group to reconvene as soon as possible so as to hold more detailed discussions on the scope, duration and verification of the nuclear freezing and on taking corresponding measures to address the concerns of the DPRK. The consensus is conducive to deepening discussions on substantive issues in the future and will help promote the denuclearization process in a down-to-earth manner.

Third, the parties agreed to seek a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue in a step-by-step manner according to the principle of "words for words" and "action for action". This consensus further defined and improved the channel of the resolution of the issue and the principles that should be abided by.

Fourth, the parties reviewed and adopted the Concept Paper of the Working Group and defined its functions, responsibilities and means of operation. This will help the working group to carry out its work in the future in a more effective, standardized and practical manner.

Fifth, the parties basically set the schedule of the fourth round of the talks and issued the second Chairman's Statement, which symbolizes that the six-party talks will continue.

Wang Yi said that this round of talks was convened when the peace talk process had entered a most critical stage. We are satisfied with the above-mentioned progress, which has consolidated our previous achievements and at the same time paved the way for the continuation of the peace talk process in the future. These achievements have not come by easily and therefore should be cherished. In the meantime, we should be fully aware that the nuclear issue is a highly complicated one. Some parties are severely lacking in mutual trust and the basis for the peace talk process is not strong enough. The parties still have quite a few differences, sometimes even confrontations, with regard to the scope and means of nuclear abandonment, nuclear freezing and corresponding measures. With the deepening of the substantive discussions, it is inevitable that there will be various new difficulties, even twists and turns. We are fully prepared psychologically. However, I believe that with the extensive support of the governments and people of the six countries as well as the international community, the goal of denuclearization is irreversible, the peace talk process is irreversible, and the historical trend of the peninsula's marching towards peace and stability is even more so.

When taking questions from the journalists on the role of China in resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, Wang Yi said that China had put forward its own solutions, suggestions or recommendations during each round of talks, especially when there emerged some difficulties or even deadlock.

The role of China is to promote the peace talk process through good offices. To date, China mainly exerted influence on three aspects. First, China put forward the overall objective, orientation and channel of the resolution of the nuclear issue, which has been widely echoed by the other five parties and the international community. Second, China promoted the formation of the three-party and later the six-party framework, which has become a continuous process. Third, China played the role of good offices and mediation as host of the talks and has won the recognition of all the other parties. However, China is not the dominating power in resolving the nuclear issue of the peninsula, so the key to the problem is not in the hands of China. We are always fully aware of this and have seen to it that we maintain an appropriate position and role during the process.

This round of talks was conducted focusing on the substantive issues and therefore encountered a lot of difficulties. As host of the talks, China has mainly done the following:

First, China has actively promoted the parties, especially the DPRK and the US, to put forward their respective solutions and has in this way made the talks go deeper. Second, China has time and again urged the parties to show mutual respect, take seriously and carefully study the solutions put forward by other parties. Third, when there was a deadlock, China has come up with a middle course in a timely manner to engage in mediations during the process.

The success of this round of talks is a result of the concerted efforts of all the parties. In the process, China has played its due role.

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