Feature

Korean leaders make a deal

The leaders of North and South Korea concluded their first direct talks in seven years by announcing an economic deal, and pledging to work for peace. North Korea has also agreed to start dismantling its nuclear program in exchange for aid. This shows tha

The leaders of North and South Korea concluded their first direct talks in seven years on Thursday by announcing an agreement to cooperate on economic projects. North Korea’s Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun also agreed to try to work out a peace agreement to formally end the Korean War, which ended with an armistice in 1953.

The news came a day after China announced that North Korea in six-party talks—which included the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea—had agreed to dismantle its key nuclear reactor and come clean on the rest of its nuclear program by the end of the year.

All the tough talk is finally paying off, said the Oregonian in an editorial. It took “diplomatic pressure” from the U.S., China, Russia, and Japan, along with some “economic concessions,” but North Korea has finally agreed to start working toward establishing a lasting peace. But this is just the first step. There is a “long road to walk” before the Korean Peninsula is nuclear-free.

See, diplomacy actually works, said The New York Times in an editorial (free registration). “To get this deal, the Bush administration, after dragging its feet for four years, displayed an admirable and all too rare mixture of diplomatic creativity, flexibility, patience and follow-through.” As in any “diplomatic deal,” both sides had to budge. North Korea agreed to “a degree of transparency few would have predicted,” and the U.S. agreed to lift sanctions and to stop calling North Korea evil. But the next step—getting rid of Pyongyang’s actual nukes—will be tougher.

And there’s every reason to believe that Kim Jong-Il will create more obstacles, said The Dallas Morning News in an editorial. “North Korea's track record demands that the five countries on the other side of the table regard any promises with great skepticism. The process that led to today's agreement has been slow and frustrating. Pyongyang has a long way to go before it earns the world's trust.”

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