SEOUL, Aug. 13 -- South Korea said Saturday North Korea was moving in the right direction by agreeing to ensure its nuclear transparency, remain within the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and implement an accord for a nuclear-free Korean poninsula. The Foreign Ministry welcomed the statement issued after the third round of U.S.-North Korea high-level talks in Geneva in which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program and seek conversion to a light-water reactor system. 'The (South Korea) government takes a positive view of the joint statement since it has made clear the principles to be followed by both sides in their further efforts to find an ultimate solution to the nuclear issue under discussion,' a foreign ministry spokesman said. 'We also consider that North Korea has taken a step in the right direction to ensure past, present and future nuclear transparency by promising to remain a party to the NPT, accept its safeguards onbligations and implement the South-North Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.' The spokesman said South Korea will maintain close cooperation with the United States and continue every possible effort to fully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue. The Geneva joint statement said theUnited States and North Korea agreed to establish diplomatic representation in each other's capitals, reduce barriers to trade and investment, and meet again Sept. 23 to iron out other issues. It said North Korea was prepared to drop its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities and replace them with light-water models with the support of the United States.
North Korea will freeze construction of its 50 megawatt and 200 megawatt reactors, forgo reprocessing and seal its petrochemical laboratories as soon as it receives U.S. assurances about the provision of light-water reactors and arrangements for interim energy alternatives, the statement said. The United States is willing to provide North Korea with assurances against the threat or use of nuclear weapons, it said.