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[Editorial] South Korea and the U.S. Gave Time and Opportunity to the North

[Editorial] South Korea and the U.S. Gave Time and Opportunity to the North

Posted February. 15, 2005 22:41,   


The Korean foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state confirmed the principle of diplomatic and peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue once again, despite the North’s declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons and insistence that it has withdrawn from the six-party talks. That is display of their will that they would not take the initiative in dissolving the six-party talks that has been maintained as the best way to resolve the North’s nuclear issue since August 2003. Fortunately, it seems that there will be no head-on collision between Washington and Pyongyang, at least for the time being.

It seems that efforts of Seoul and Washington to maintain the six-way talks will soon resume. U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of Christopher R. Hill, U.S. Ambassador to Korea, as the U.S. chief delegate for the talks, and is expected to discuss the nuclear issue with the Japanese foreign minister on the weekend. The diplomatic efforts of Korea and U.S. are expected to center on persuasion of the North with China as mediator.

There was no great breakthrough, but the meeting between the Korean foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state gave related countries time to cautiously respond to the issue. Hopes are that Pyongyang will also take this opportunity to think over its ill-advised choice of pulling out of the six-way talks.

In particular, the North should pay attention to the U.S. mixed response. In a rare movement, both the White House and the State Department put pressure on the North on the day the Korean foreign minister and U.S. secretary of state had a meeting. The remark: “We will closely watch the North’s illegal activities, including the counterfeiting of money, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and drug trafficking,” amounts to a warning that Washington will not sit idly by if Pyongyang keeps resorting to irrational measures. Speaking of the principle of U.S. North Korea policy, Rice said that the U.S. will not tolerate the collapse of the six-nation nuclear talks, that it will continue efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and that it will be on guard against proliferation risks (of nuclear material). That is much more comprehensive than the Korean government’s argument that it will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea.

It seems that the U.S. is gradually approaching a crossroads in which it will face a choice between dialogue and pressure, depending on the North’s response. The meeting between the Korean foreign minister and the U.S. secretary of state proved that participants of the six-way talks except for the North still want to settle the problem through dialogue. North Korea should make a wise decision. It should not forget that the six-party talks are a meeting designed to discuss preconditions of giving up nuclear weapons, and the corresponding rewards for this action.