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Negroponte’s Stance on Korea Unknown

Posted January. 09, 2007 03:01,   


‘A conservative globalist putting importance on practical solutions rather than ideology. A poker-faced veteran with 47 years of diplomatic experience.’ These are the descriptions of the new Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte by American press. He will in effect take in charge of US State Department’s policy toward the Korean peninsula.

It is not easy to predict his future policy direction toward Korea. Few of his Korea-related remarks were made public while he assumed the positions of UN ambassador and the Director of National Intelligence. Most of the time, journalists’ questions were focused on troubles in Iraq and the reform of the intelligence agency, which has repeatedly failed in its information gathering mission.

Over the past 3 months, he has made five or six official remarks. He addressed foundations, research institutes, and universities while visiting Boston and New York. His only remark on Korea was passed when he received a question from Harvard University Kennedy School students on December 1. This was part of a Q&A session, not a prepared speech.

In response to the question regarding the threat from North Korea, he answered that Pyongyang has sold ballistic missiles to any countries hoping to purchase them and threatened to leak nuclear materials to the outside world. His answer implied that the U.S. government weighed North Korea’s WMD export as one of its biggest security threats.

On July 11 2006, Negroponte attended a Senate Diplomatic Committee hearing and assessed North Korea’s security threat. Since it was a closed-door meeting, the only confirmed statement was ‘North Korea has nuclear materials and missile capability to transport them. The combination of the two is a serious threat.’

This shows he is a conservative who shares strong criticism against North Korea’s security threat.

In December 2005, Negroponte met President Roh Moo-hyun during his unofficial visit to South Korea. He also met the then Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, then Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon and then Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon in Washington and discussed US’s Korea policy. The discussion, however, was never made public.

Most diplomats who have an acquaintance with him say the State Department’s second-ranking official is good at making a poker face and prioritizes U.S. policy and interests.

“He fully took his role as a U.S. representative, never revealing whether U.S. policy is 100% enough or 50% enough,” said Paul Heinbecker, Canadian ambassador to the UN, in an interview with the New York Times in March 2005.