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Roh Doubts Effectiveness of US Containment Policy toward Pyongyang

Roh Doubts Effectiveness of US Containment Policy toward Pyongyang

Posted December. 31, 2002 22:59,   


If the United States announces its North Korea policy unilaterally and South Korea just accepts it, it is not a proper form of cooperation between the US and South Korea, President-elect Roh Moo-hyun said on Dec. 31 last year.

At a press meeting at the Government Complex Annex in central Seoul, Roh said, "US-Korea mutual help does not mean that the South accepts US unilateral policy toward the North and it is a case that needs prior consultation."

He doubts that US President George W. Bush’s containment policy tailored to Pyongyang is effective to curb it or bring it to fall on its knees, he added.

"Whether or not the US stance toward the North works, US citizens’ interests are not at stake, but the policy could affect the fate of the Korean people," said the President-elect. "This should be kept in mind."

He continued, "Political leaders in Korea, whether in the ruling camp or not, should take a firm stance on this principle and the Korean people should back their stance. I regret that there are political voices that stoke anxiety by reason that Seoul does not follow the US position blindly."

With respect to the opposition Grand National Party (GNP)’s demand that Roh hold confirmation hearings for his appointees as chiefs of the Nation’s "big four" influential government agencies, which he promised during the campaign, he responded that he would deliver on his promise. Those big four are the National Intelligence Commission; the Public Prosecutor’s Office; the National Tax service; and the National Police Agency. On holding a summit meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, and sending a special envoy to Pyongyang to resolve North Korean nuclear issues, he answered, "I am mapping out measures to systematically respond to its nuclear ambitions. I will suggest detailed plans to persuade the North and the US in January." He showed his willingness to push his plan to remove loopholes in the inheritance and gift tax system, saying it could stir up controversy but that it is not unconstitutional. He related, "If there is controversy over its constitutionality, I will push ahead with it by preparing a basis for it in the constitution." Meanwhile, at a senior party meeting the GNP chairman, Seo Chung-won, decried Roh for his comment on Mr. Bush’s tailored containment policy. He said, "At present, without policy coordination, South Korea and the US cannot settle the nuclear crisis. However, Roh is driving the Korean people into anxiety by asserting the reduction of the US troops stationed here. Rather he should make efforts to prevent the withdrawal of them." He continued, "As the President-elect in charge of security of people and peace, Roh should refrain from making dangerous statements on grave issues that could have an enormous impact on the economy and the society as a whole."

Sung-Won Park swpark@donga.com