Updated : Feb.23.2005 02:54 KST

[Editorial] Time for United States to Respond

[Editorial] Time for United States to Respond

Comments by North Korean National Defence Commission Chairman Kim Jong Il to Chinese Communist Party international liaison department Wang Jiarui, in Pyongyang to convince the North to attend the six-party talks, confirm two things. The first is that the North Korean foreign ministry statement of February 10, which said it would not be participating in the talks and that it possesses nuclear weapons, was made with negotiations in mind. The other is that there will be no breakthrough in the current situation without a change of attitude from the United States. Now that the North's intentions are clear it is time for the US to produce a more developed offer.

Chairman Kim said he "maintains the principle of a non-nuclear Korean peninsula and a peaceful resolution through dialogue," making it clear he wants to abandon the North's nuclear plans. He made none of the comments observers worried would make the situation worse. He said that the North would go to the talks if certain conditions were met, and as an example he cited "believable, good-faith action" on the part of the US. His expectation of change in American attitude regarding a security guarantee and compensation is, in its own way, consistent and rational, because as long as there is a possibility that hard-liners in the US will attempt to topple the North's government, it will be hard for there to be substantial progress in negotiations.

Christopher Hill, US ambassador to Korea and the chief American representative to the six-party talks, however, says the proposal the US laid out in June of last year is still valid, and that the US can explain the proposal some more if the North would like to hear it. In other words, the US wants to show the North the same proposal it revealed before the breakdown in the process. It is not good to take the kind of attitude that deliberately disregards the North's concerns, and it differs also from the Chinese position. In his letter delivered by Wang, Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed to Chairman Kim understanding for the North's "reasonable concerns."

It is too much for the US to demand the North give up its nuclear abilities when the North is saying it is ready to abolish its nuclear program through negotiations. If the US really wants to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue it must change its approach. The Korean government should employ diplomacy that will make the US and the North sit down across from each other over a constructive proposal.

The Hankyoreh, 23 February 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]


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