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[Editorial] On June 11, Roh Will Shape the Future of Korea

[Editorial] On June 11, Roh Will Shape the Future of Korea

Posted June. 08, 2005 06:44,   


Seoul and Washington will have a summit meeting on June 11. Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said that the summit will be the most crucial meeting of this decade. The meeting will be an important chance for the two nations to discuss ways to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, and it will decide whether or not the relations between the two can be normalized. It is hoped that tangible results will be made during the meeting.

President Roh Moo-hyun must feel the enormous responsibility. Since his inauguration, he has said that the nuclear issue can be solved through the six-way talks and should be, assuming that the North does not have any ill intentions. However, little progress has been made on this issue. One may wonder what stance Roh will take at the upcoming meeting, given that the U.S. officials are currently openly talking about the possibility of taking the issue to the U.N. Security Council.

The New York Times reported that Roh will put forth incentives to Pyongyang. A South Korean official denied the report. However, the official made it clear that the incentives will be an ultimatum; North Korea will be given a chance to return to the talks but this will be the last one.

For his part, President Roh should do his best to cooperate with the U.S. so that the incentives work as intended. He has to clarify that Seoul will fully cooperate with Washington in case the incentives fail to get the North to the talks. He should discuss with U.S. President Bush about the frequency and the intensity of the possible use of “whip” in case of the failure of the use of “carrot.”

During their first meeting in May 2003, the two presidents agreed to seek additional measures besides diplomatic measures in case the nuclear issue remains unresolved. They declared that other measures can be taken if diplomatic measures fail to solve the North Korea’s nuclear issue.

Some foreign media reports say that the North expressed its willingness to return to the six-party talks with the Seoul and Washington meeting drawing closer. However, it is not clear whether Pyongyang changed its stance or it just tried to avoid the Seoul and Washington’s pressure that is expected to escalate with the summit meeting.

Regardless of whichever is true, only the full cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. can get the North to the six-way talks and make the North abandon its nuclear weapons. Roh should keep this point in mind. He should do his utmost to solve the nuclear issue as early as possible and normalize the Seoul-Washington relations even if he has to face some uncomfortable situations during the summit. The upcoming meeting can decide the future of South Korea.