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[Editorial] S.K. and U.S. Are Merely Standing on Starting Point

[Editorial] S.K. and U.S. Are Merely Standing on Starting Point

Posted May. 15, 2003 21:47,   


The summit meeting between South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and his U.S. counterpart George W. Bush ended on a pleasant note. The joint statement contained items both sides agreed on and the two leaders` seemed pleased during their explanation of the summit results, perhaps raising expectations that previous misunderstandings could be cleared.

With respect to pending issues including North Korea`s nuclear weapons program, Roh and Bush shared common ground and set in motion paths towards a resolution of these issues through a process of much needed fine-tuning. Relations between the two nations had previously been strained immediately following the inauguration of the new South Korean president. Roh Moo-hyun however, had no problems when standing side by side with his very close ally in front of the world. We should be satisfied with the summit in that the two nations got off to a good start, but now is not the time for either party to rest on its laurels as the strained relationship has not yet fully thawed.

The wording in the joint statement shows delicate differences in the perspectives of the two nations. Though the two leaders put emphasis on the principle of a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue, they agreed that further steps would be considered if threats on the peninsula increase. In other words, the statement clearly shows the U.S. side`s unwillingness to exclude every option, including a preemptive military strike on North Korea. Roh`s position holds that he will decide on inter-Korean exchange and cooperation after watching positive development of the nuclear issue.

It is useless to argue over who made more concessions or who received more benefits at the summit, a meeting that ended on friendly terms. The problem is to make the agreed items a reality. If the summit meeting is to prove a success, alleviating concerns and offering more hope for the future, as Roh stated, the two sides should do what they said they would.

President Roh`s perception of the U.S. also garners some attention. His change in view has obviously had a positive impact on the restoration of confidence between the two nations, but most Koreans showed surprise at his unconventional words, words that Roh will be held accountable for in the future.

In short, Roh should not create confusion by doing an about-face in terms of policy. He should comply with the agreements reached at the summit and consider Korea`s position when dealing with North Korea`s nuclear ambitions as well as other issues brought to the fore.