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U.S. and North Korean negotiators in Geneva were hammering out a joint statement this evening -- probably an agreement on how to dispose of 8,000 spent fuel rods that North Korea could otherwise use in its alleged nuclear weapons program, a North Korean diplomat said. The pact could set off a domino effect, observes TIME correspondent Jay Peterzell, resulting in a U.S.-funded, $2 billion light-water reactor -- unsuitable for production of fuel for weapons -- for Pyongyang, and the establishment of full diplomatic ties. After tonight, the two sides are expected to break until September. "This buys time and keeps everything on track," Peterzell says. In the meantime, he adds, the U.S. will gather international support so the reactor deal hits no snags.