BEIJING (AP) – North Korea pledged to drop its nuclear weapons development and rejoin international arms treaties in a unanimous agreement today at six-party arms talks.

The agreement was the first-ever joint statement after more than two years of negotiations.

The North “promised to drop all nuclear weapons and current nuclear programs and to get back to the (Nuclear) Nonproliferation Treaty as soon as possible and to accept inspections” by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to the agreement by the six countries at the talks.

“All six parties emphasized that to realize the inspectable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the target of the six-party talks,” the statement said.

The North and United States also pledged in the agreement to respect each other’s sovereignty and right to peaceful coexistence.

“The United States affirmed that is has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade (North Korea) with nuclear or conventional weapons,” according to the statement, assurances echoed by South Korea.

The negotiations had been deadlocked over Pyongyang’s demands that it retain the right to civilian nuclear programs after it disarms, and the statement acknowledges the North has made such an assertion but doesn’t go beyond that.

North Korean officials had also demanded the country be given a light-water nuclear reactor at the latest talks – a type believed to be less easily diverted for weapons use – but Washington had said it and other countries at the talks wouldn’t meet that request.

Putting aside the question for now, the joint statement said: “The other parties expressed their respect and agreed to discuss at an appropriate time the subject of the provision of light-water reactor” to North Korea.

“This is the most important result since the six-party talks started more than two years ago,” said Wu Dawei, China’s vice foreign minister.

The talks, which began in August 2003, include China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas.


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