Negotiators have reached a tentative agreement on initial steps toward North Korea's nuclear disarmament, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, U.S. envoy to the talks, said today, The Associated Press is reporting.
And New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has met several times unofficially with North Korean leaders urging that country to take steps toward abandoning its nuclear agreement, today said he was encouraged by the tentative agreement.
"This is a good agreement that takes the right path," Richardson said in a news release. "Although the devil is in the details, this is a first important step that might lead to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
Richardson added: "It took tough bilateral talks between the United States and North Korea to make this happen."
The agreement announced today could mark the first step toward disarmament in more than three years of inconclusive negotiations and deadlock, a process that reached its low point last October when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test explosion, the AP reported.
The current round of six-nation talks involving the United States, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia began Thursday on what the AP described as a promising note when the U.S. and North Korea indicated a willingness to compromise.
But negotiations appeared to have gotten stuck on the issue of how much energy aid North Korea would get in exchange for taking its first steps toward disarmament, the AP reported.