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[Editorial] Mixed Comments on Second North-South Summit

Posted November. 05, 2004 23:07,   


The mixed comments within the government and the ruling Uri Party on whether to attempt to hold a North-South summit should not be overlooked easily. Uri Party chairman Lee Bu-young said in an interview with Daejeon Ilbo on November 3, “I believe a North-South summit may take place during the first half of next year.” Lee said in a meeting with international investors the following day, “I will put efforts into arranging a summit as soon as possible.”

The Presidential office and the National Security Council dismissed his comments, citing “there have been no moves to hold a summit.” When the ruling party’s leader says one thing and the government another, the public will be at a loss whom to believe.

Lee, who has caused confusion over the summit, should first address the situation. It will be a responsibility of his stature as ruling party chairman to clarify whether his remarks are just wishful thinking or well substantiated. The government should not just repeatedly dismiss his remarks, but also explain in detail how they differ from fact. Lee mentioned “the first half of next year” as part of a concrete timeframe for a summit. Without a clear explanation, the government won’t curb public doubts that the government is clandestinely arranging the summit.

We are not here to deny the usefulness of a North-South summit. We are watching out for attempts at preparing one while deceiving the public. Not to repeat the mistake of paying the north hundreds of millions of dollars to set up the first summit, a second summit should be implemented transparently. Attempts by some politicians to reveal the mere possibility of a summit as a way to advance their political interests should not repeat.

An intra-Korea summit must help address urgent issues surrounding the Korean peninsula such as the North Korean nuclear crisis. In order for the summit to do so, it will take some fine-tuning with participants in six-way talks such as the U.S., Japan, China and Russia. While the second summit has not taken place because North Korea’s National Defense Committee chairman Kim Jong Il reneged on his promise to reciprocate former president Kim Dae-jung’s visit. If the South gives the impression that it hastily and anxiously attempts to hold a summit, it will be difficult for it to incite changes in the North’s posture such as its renunciation of its nuclear ambitions. The South’s use of “the summit card” may result in giving the upper hand to the North