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[Opinion] Friendship Between Leaders

Posted November. 17, 2004 23:07,   


“Who is a friend of Laura and mine…”

The president of the United States, George W. Bush, makes such an expression whenever he mentions Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. By mentioning the first lady (Laura Bush), diplomatic sources interpret, Bush intends to underline that the friendship between the heads of the two nations are close enough to exchange private dialogue. Recently after his re-election was confirmed, President Bush paid a tribute to Koizumi by calling him a “good man” and repeatedly showed his friendship. Towards another sworn friend, British prime minister Tony Blair, he said, “I’m a lucky guy to work with him.”

Prime Minister Blair and Koizumi are internationally known as the best friends of President Bush. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, also expresses his closeness with Bush as often as he can. During the U.S. presidential campaign, President Putin and Prime Minister Koizumi openly supported President Bush. British Prime Minister Blair reportedly was so grateful to Koizumi during his visit to Japan in July last year when he was suffering from the suspicion regarding the information of weapons in Iraq.

Considering the grim reality of international politics where the logic of power dominates, it is clear that the friendship between summits cannot be taken as it is. The close relationship of Bush-Blair and Bush-Koizumi could not be established if England and Japan didn’t take part in the Iraq war. However, at the negotiation table, where they struggle for national interests, it is an enviable thing for the sake of the nation as well as oneself to have a powerful friend with whom one can always exchange his thoughts. Actually, whether the head of a nation is invited to the U.S. president’s ranch in Crawford or not affects a country a great deal in terms of economic aspects.

Does President Roh Moo-hyun have any friends in other countries with whom he can share an open-minded friendship? If not, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, which will be held on November 20-21 in Chile would be an opportunity to make new friends. It is also quite regrettable for Korean people to see that the head of the nation remains alone in the international society. If possible, the most satisfactory thing is to have close ties with the person who has a strong voice on the destiny of the Korean Peninsula…

Park Won-jae, Tokyo correspondent, parkwj@donga.com