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Recent Dokdo Name Change Involves No Politics: U.S.

Posted July. 30, 2008 03:15,   


Regarding the latest decision of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to change the description of Dokdo’s status to “undesignated sovereignty,” the Lee Myung-bak and Bush administrations said Tuesday that the U.S. agency’s decision had nothing to do with political consideration, which means that there is no change in the U.S. position.

Korean Ambassador to the United States Lee Tae-shik Tuesday met U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Deputy National Security Advisor James Jeffrey and Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill and expressed regret over the status change of the Dokdo islets. Lee also demanded adjustment to the classification of Dokdo.

The U.S. government officials responded, “The BGN’s latest alteration was not made based on political consideration of the territorial dispute on the islets. Rather, it was a technical decision reached by geographical thinkers and mapmakers,” adding that, “Considering the political and diplomatic sensitivity surrounding the Dokdo issue, we have to admit the decision came out at an inappropriate time.”

According to Lee, the U.S. officials also said they would figure out what measures could be taken on their part.

A foreign ministry source commented, “The fact that the U.S. federal government agency took such a measure just 10 days ahead of President George W. Bush’s official visit to Korea is a telltale sign that it was not related to political thinking.”

He added, “Some critics say that the U.S. measure seemingly intended to be technically neutral resulted in embarrassing Korea. On this argument, I think if the United States wanted to stir political controversy over this issue, it would have done so with the former administration (whose relationships was somewhat uneasy), not with the current one.”

Meanwhile, according to Professor Kim Yeong-ki at George Washington University, when he asked about the possibility of restoring the sovereign status of Dokdo to a Korean territory, a key official of the BGN replied “It is not possible.” The BGN and other related U.S. government agencies haven’t provided any answers to media questions or interviews as they seem to be aware of the sensitivity of the issue.

sechepa@donga.com srkim@donga.com