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Korea-U.S. Policy Differences Evident

Posted September. 18, 2006 07:04,   


Reports have it that there were many differences between the policies of South Korea and the U.S. The two countries discussed the resumption of six-party talks and the “cooperative comprehensive approach” for implementation of the September 19 joint statement at a meeting on September 14 (local time) in Washington prior to the summit.

Ban Ki-moon, the minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Song Min-soon, director general of North American Affairs Bureau in the ministry, met with Condoleezza Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State and Steven Hadley, U.S. assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the day before the summit. However, the two sides were not able to narrow down their differences.

This was because the U.S. was reluctant to accept South Korea’s suggestion to take a softened approach toward North Korea to entice the country to participate in the six-party talks. Korea proposed supporting energy or easing financial sanctions against North Korea.

It is said that Tony Snow, the White House spokesperson, did not mention the comprehensive approach to North Korea while he was reporting the results of the summit because of the differences between South Korea and the U.S.

Also, at a G7 meeting in Singapore, Henry Paulson, the U.S. Treasury Secretary, called for international cooperation to stop North Korea from conducting illegal financial activities such as money laundering. This means that the U.S. has made it clear that it will take a firm stance, which will not be affected by the comprehensive approach agreed by South Korea, against North Korea.

Recently, Kim Young Nam, the Standing Committee chairman of the Supreme People`s Assembly of North Korea, said, “Unless the U.S. lifts sanctions against us, North Korea will not return to the six-party talks,” in a NAM summit held at La Habana, Cuba in September 17.

Therefore, Seoul and Washington expect that it will be difficult to come up with an agreement about comprehensive approach towards North Korea at a meeting between ROK-US top envoys to the six-party talks that will take place in New York this week.

On September 17, a diplomatic source said, “The two countries are just getting ready to settle an agreement. Nothing has been decided yet.”

However, a diplomat said, “It’s hard to say whether there will be a case Korea and the U.S. will be able to agree on. It will be safe to expect little from this week’s meeting.”

On the other hand, on September 16, a high level official of the South Korean government said, “Korea and America did not just start. We are on track now. It’s a process in progress.”