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[Editorial] High Hopes For U.S.-ROK Summit

Posted May. 09, 2003 21:50,   


President Roh Moo Hyun plans to leave for the United States tomorrow. South Koreans are looking forward to the trip perhaps more than he is.

This will be Roh`s first summit since taking office in February. The agendas to be discussed are critical to the future of the Korean Peninsula, and knowing this, South Koreans, whether supporters of Roh or not, have high hopes for the upcoming meeting with President Bush.

Of course, the North Korean nuclear crisis commands top priority. We wonder what views the two presidents currently have and what conclusions they will draw out from their discussions. The personal perception of North Korean leader Kim Jung Il is expected to play a significant role in the determination of the result.

Yesterday, President Roh acknowledged that the gap between Seoul and Washington has grown wider with regards to dealing with the North Korean nuclear standoff and the issue of U.S. forces in South Korea. The White House, according to President Roh, stresses that firm principles must be held when handling these issues, while the Blue House argues for a `situation-conscious` approach.

The upcoming talks aim at narrowing the gap. When leaders of two countries meet, they usually are there to discuss various urgent issues. This is the core of practical diplomacy. This time, unlike any other, practical diplomacy should focus on the nuclear crisis and the future of U.S. forces stationed in South Korea.

President Roh should keep in mind the fact that Pyongyang is also closely watching the summit. It is important to confirm the peaceful approach the two nations will espouse. But, it seems more important to demonstrate the stern will of the two leaders against North Korea`s arming itself with nuclear weapons. The isolated regime will then clearly understand what message is being conveyed. The "level of agreement" between Seoul and Washington should at least be as strong as that which came out of the U.S.-Japan summit.

Restoration of trust between Seoul and Washington is no less important than the handling of current issues. We would like to send an unequivocal message not only to President Bush, but also to all Americans, that we cherish our alliance with the United States. The sooner we are able to eliminate misunderstanding and mistrust of some Americans toward the new South Korean administration, the better for all of us. Another duty of President Roh is to convince U.S. investors of South Korea`s dynamic power and ability to achieve constant economic reform.

We sincerely hope President Roh`s visit will serve as an opportunity to restore the U.S.-ROK alliance and gather up the pieces for mutual peace and prosperity on the peninsula.