Great News If True

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The devil being in the details, of course. It appears as if a working agreement may have been reached to start disarming North Korea's nuclear weaponry.

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. envoy to talks on North Korea's nuclear program said Tuesday that negotiators reached a tentative agreement on initial steps for the communist nation's disarmament.

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.

More updated here:

The U.S. envoy to the talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, emerged in the early morning hours of Tuesday looking weary after a marathon 16-hour negotiating session and announced that a tentative deal had been struck at the latest round of six-nation talks on the North's nuclear program.

The draft agreement contained commitments on disarmament and energy assistance along with "initial actions" to be taken by certain deadlines, Hill said. Working groups will be set up, hopefully in a month, laying out a framework for dealing with regional tensions, he added.

He declined to give further details of the draft.

The agreement could herald the first step toward disarmament since the talks began in 2003. The process reached its lowest point in October when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test explosion, alarming the world and triggering U.N. sanctions.

In the last few days, the talks had appeared to be on the verge of foundering and envoys made clear that their frustration was increasing and their patience growing thin. The current round was to conclude on Monday but as they progressed toward a deal, negotiators extended it late into the night and then into the early hours of Tuesday.

Now they will have to make sure that the North Koreans actually carry through with their promises and not do what they did with the Carter negotiated deal while Clinton was in office. Which was basically take all the aid they could get and carry on their weapons work anyway.

But it is a hopeful sign.

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