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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 September 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Press sees no quick fix over N. Korea
L-R: United States Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-so and North Korea's chief negotiator Kim Gye Gwan after reaching agreement in Beijing
Handshakes hide a long road ahead

Regional newspapers are unsurprised by North Korea's insistence it will not scrap its nuclear programme until it receives a civilian nuclear reactor, which immediately called into question the agreement reached on Monday in the six-party talks.

Commentators believe Pyongyang is simply seeking to get the best deal from an agreement replete with ambiguities, and there is a long road ahead before a final understanding is achieved.

A Taiwanese commentator believes that Beijing's role has helped it gain the upper hand in its competition with Washington for regional supremacy.

Comment in Beijing's China Daily

The talks ahead are fraught with difficulties, confrontations, complications and unforeseen factors. The past tells us that, when it comes to Korean nuclear negotiations, one must possess sufficient political and diplomatic patience and tolerance... But this certainly cannot shake our confidence in a political and diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.

Columnist in China's Huaxia Shibao

The statement of the North Korean side [demanding a light-water reactor from the US] is only a tactical trick, aimed at stressing that its national interests are guaranteed. If too much is read into it, it will obviously be disadvantageous to the denuclearization process on the peninsula.

Shanghai's Jiefang Ribao

The war of words between North Korea and the US is by no means a sudden unforeseen mishap, it is in fact both sides reiterating their respective core interests in order to strive for the initiative in the next stage of negotiations. What it reflects is precisely where the trouble lies in the hard-to-resolve North Korean nuclear issue - the lack of mutual trust.

Comment in Shanghai's Diyi Caijing Ribao

There are still very many barriers which have to be overcome, but this is after all the most crucial achievement in the international community's activities and efforts concerning the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in many years. The agreement has not only strengthened the confidence of the six sides to sit together and resolve the issue - it will certainly have a positive influence on the formation of a new security mechanism in Northeast Asia.

Comment in Taiwan's China Times

Looking at the agreement, the US is actually the biggest loser, and China and North Korea have made significant progress. Saying that China and North Korea have joined hands to create another setback for the US' Asia-Pacific diplomacy is not at all inappropriate... China has not only seized the initiative again, it has managed to maintain the situation of 'talks and no breakdown' in the North Korean nuclear issue, and will thus avoid directly laying its cards on the table with the US at the United Nations, but will use its hosting of the talks to control the security agenda in Northeast Asia, use North Korea to curb Japan, and then bind up the 'US-Japanese alliance'. From this outcome, Beijing's strategy has been extremely successful.

South Korea's The Korea Herald

The statement on principles - elaborated mostly in ambiguous phrases - also signalled a tough and complicated road ahead for the six parties, who must now sit and negotiate how and when to transform the agreed principles into action... Ambiguity lies in almost all of the articles, including the "appropriate time" in which the members will discuss the subject of the provision of a light-water reactor.

South Korea's Hankyoreh

North Korea and the United States are each trying to interpret to their own advantage parts of the document that they had long been at odds over before arriving at a compromise... Therefore the current situation can be seen as a war of nerves between North Korea and the United States as they try to seize a more advantageous upper hand. Ultimately the problem will have to be resolved in the long process of negotiation about concrete implementation of the joint statement. The [South] Korean government needs to continue to exert creative effort to assure that the North and the US soften their mistrust and implement the statement with concrete agreement.

Australia's The Sydney Morning Herald

Despite North Korea backing away from part of the agreement yesterday, at the very least, it shows that patient diplomacy offers better prospects of progress than the stalemate resulting from the previous pattern of non-negotiable demands by the United States and brinkmanship and cheating by Pyongyang's erratic leader, Kim Jong-il... The importance of Beijing's readiness to take a constructive initiative is encouraging, not just for the Korean Peninsula, but for the wider region... There is a long, tortuous way to go, but this sounds like the beginning of wisdom.

Melbourne's The Age

Kim Jong-il, leader of the world's most reclusive regime, may look like an oddball but he is nobody's fool. He has again shown as much by calling the bluff of United States President George Bush on nuclear proliferation. Mr Bush ... has been compelled to wind back the rhetoric and the threats... The positive diplomacy is welcome: there were always flaws in Mr Bush's hardline approach... But where North Korea is concerned, things are seldom as they seem. Yesterday its foreign ministry cast doubt over the deal... Sadly, the long march to peace and prosperity for oppressed and starved ordinary North Koreans is far from over.

Japan's Mainichi Shimbun

Taking advantage of the vague wording of the joint statement, North Korea announced its self-serving interpretation of the wording in the joint statement. The North Korean leadership had already firmed up its future negotiation policy without waiting for the briefing on the results of the talks.

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