Peace overture

IN A really daring step, North Korea announced yesterday that it will freeze its nuclear arms programme and will not produce nuclear arms. Pyongyang did so in what it described as a bold concession in exchange for its name being written off from the US list of countries "sponsoring terrorism" along with the lifting of sanctions imposed against it, besides the fuel consignments which it received from the United States in the past and later were suspended. The ball is now back in the court of America, which should reply quickly to the proposals in order to lay the groundwork for the six-way talks, which are scheduled to open in Beijing this month.

The talks will include, besides the United States and North Korea, Japan and Russia. It is worth mentioning that North Korea had earlier requested that Washington should offer guarantees on non-aggression against it if it renounced its nuclear programme. China and Russia, in turn, have submitted a joint proposal for making the Korean peninsula free of nuclear arms. The proposal will prompt the US to speed up its response to the North Korean initiative to avoid additional proposals.

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