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Roh-Bush Meeting in U.S. Scheduled

Posted August. 17, 2006 03:34,   


Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Jung Tae-ho announced on Wednesday that President Roh will have a summit with U.S. President Bush on September 14 during his visit to the United States from September 12 to 15. Two major agendas of this summit are a resolution of North Korea’s missile test and nuclear issues and measures to further develop Korea-U.S. alliance.

Nuclear issue-

If North Korea refuses to return to the six-party talks, demanding the U.S. to remove economic sanctions on the North, heads of the two countries will discuss holding five-party talks of South Korea, the U.S., China, Japan, and Russia without North Korea.

The focus will be on persuading China, which is against five-party talks because of the North’s opposition.

“South Korea government stands that we should hold the five-party talks should North Korea refuses to participate in the six-party talks to maintain the momentum of the talks, and the U.S. agrees with the South,” said a South Korean government official.

There is a possibility that President Roh advises holding bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea when discussing the North Korean nuclear issue, because the North is consistently demanding bilateral talks with the U.S.

There are speculations that Roh will discuss the level of sanctions toward the North during the summit. Roh is known to be concerned of the possible military backlash from the North should the U.S. pressure on the North gets intense.

How to develop U.S.-Korea alliance-

Wartime operational control is expected to be a major issue. However, the two sides are likely to reaffirm their positions regarding the issue rather than discuss in-depth about the issue.

The two heads of state are not likely to discuss the issue because the roadmap of the wartime operational control will be discussed in detail by national defense heads at the 38th Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) in October.

“The issue does not require discussions of the two heads of state. We have already reached an agreement and the roadmap is almost completed,” said Song Min-soon, the president’s chief secretary for national security.

The two leaders will likely announce that U.S. forces will continue to be stationed in the South and that the alliance between the two countries is strong even if the wartime operation control is transferred to silence the concerning voices over chasm between the U.S.-Korea alliance. President Roh always met Bush whenever there was talk of a crack in the alliance.

President Roh’s statement in his Liberation Day speech on August 15 that the U.S. will play a leading role in establishing peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia should the six-party talks succeed is seemingly aimed at improving the relationship between the two leaders before the summit.

Other issues are likely to be discussed such as shooting range issue of U.S. Air Force in Korea, extension of Korean troops’ dispatch to Iraq, and environmental cleanup cost of Yongsan Garrison of U.S. Forces in Seoul.

“The two heads of state will discuss KORUS FTA, which is included in the Korea-U.S. alliance issue in a broader perspective,” briefed Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Lee Kyu-hyung.

Roh is expected to stress South Korea’s current stance that it would not overlook the content of the FTA although it is desirable to reach an agreement at an early date.

Before heading for the U.S., Roh will pay a state visit to Greece from September 3 to 5, Romania from 5 to 7, Finland from 7 to 9, and will participate in the 6th ASEM Summit in Helsinki, Finland from September 10 to 11.

ysh1005@donga.com gun43@donga.com