The U.S. State Department announced on Wednesday that North Korea has agreed to implement a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and nuclear activities, including enrichment at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, and to allow U.N. nuclear watchdog inspectors in to Yongbyon to ensure compliance.
In return, the United States agreed to finalize details of a proposed food aid package and to take other steps to improve bilateral ties, the State Department said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that North Korea's nuclear moratorium is a "modest first step in the right direction" onto the path of peace.
The United States still has "profound concerns," Clinton told a House of Representatives committee, and will be watching closely and "judging North Korea's new leaders by their actions."
South Korea welcomed the announcement and said it should be a basis to move forward on the long-simmering conflict.
"It is our assessment that the basis has been set for moving forward on our efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue in a comprehensive and fundamental manner," South Korea's Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said in a statement.
Japan also said Wednesday it welcomed the agreement between North Korea and the United States as an important step toward resolving long-running issues surrounding the impoverished country.
"We hope coordination to implement what has been agreed upon will make smooth progress," Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba said in a statement.
© 2016 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.