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[Editorial] Bush’s State of the Union Address, an Opportunity for the North

[Editorial] Bush’s State of the Union Address, an Opportunity for the North

Posted February. 03, 2005 22:57,   


U.S. President George W. Bush did not show any particular hostility toward North Korea in his State of the Union address. He mentioned the North only once when he raised the issue of cooperation between countries around the world and the U.S., saying, “We are closely cooperating with many Asian governments in order to talk the North into dismantling its nuclear ambition.” This marks a contrast with his demand to Iran and Syria, a call for suspension of terrorism support, dismantling of nuclear activities, and advancement of freedom.

Fortunately, President Bush has apparently softened his attitude toward the North compared to his State of the Union addresses in 2002 and 2003, when he characterized North Korea as an “axis of evil” and “oppressive regime.” The fact that he differentiated the North from Iran and Syria itself is a big change. This can be interpreted as his declaration of commitment to resolve peacefully the North’s nuclear issue through the six-party talks.

It is noted that before the State of the Union address occurred, some U.S. top officials made a series of remarks expressing their hope for dialogues with North Korea. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stressed the importance of the six-way talks in her phone call with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ban Ki-moon, and Michael Green, the senior director for Asia at the White House National Security Council who recently visited Korea, also confirmed his will to resume the six-party talks. This signals that the second Bush administration is leaning toward the option of dialogue in terms of its North Korea policy.

We find Bush’s State of the Union address as an opportunity to resume dialogues with the North. Pyongyang has also been expressing its position several times that it would decide whether to go back to the six-party negotiating table after the State of the Union address takes place. There is no reason to wait any longer. The North should tap Bush’s latest address as an opportunity to resume the dialogue.

The North’s nuclear standoff has been aggravated since the deadlock of the six-way talks. The U.S. press has even raised suspicions that North Korea exported nuclear materials to Libya. The doubt will only grow if the Stalinist regime still refuses to come back to the negotiating table this time. Additional condition made by the North would be considered nothing but a pretext to reject the dialogue. We demand North Korea’s prompt decision.