The effort to persuade North Korea to roll back its nuclear program was, until recently, one of the modest successes for the Bush administration's foreign policy. The man leading the effort, chief US negotiator Christopher Hill, is a hugely respected diplomat, well-versed in the intricacies of the subject.
For an administration criticized for its unilateralism, this was very much a multilateral effort, the framework for the discussions being the six-party talks.Indeed the Bush administration has significantly shifted both the tone and the substance of its policy towards North Korea. Highly symbolic was the president's decision in October to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The Bush administration's effort to reach out to Pyongyang was seen as a betrayal of fundamental principle by some conservative hardliners, not least the former UN ambassador John Bolton. They believed that the administration had gone soft.
Now US President-elect Barack Obama can add this dossier too to his ever-increasing in-tray.