Updated : May.19.2005 03:03 KST

Intra-Korean Talks Must be Productive

The intra-Korean vice ministerial talks taking place for the first time since July of last year have arrived at a larger framework to work with but there are problems when it comes to the details. On the first day the two sides announced their basic position and on the second day worked into the night to try to narrow their differences but failed to do so. The South’s delegation returned to Seoul having agreed with the North that each side would talk amongst themselves and then meet again, but the prospects are unclear.

It is hard to sympathize with the way the North agrees to holding ministerial-level talks next month but then does not want to set a specific date. Intra-Korean dialogue is needed for widening the range of Korean national reconciliation and for exchange and cooperation, but it is also needed for peace on the Korean peninsula. Even if the nuclear issue is something that must be resolved with the United States, as the North is asserting, there is still going to be safety to be found in having discussion between North and South going on simultaneously. The North should not be trying to avoid including a further developed expression of honest intention about peacefully resolving the nuclear issue in the eventual document. That should not be difficult, so it is hard to understand why the North has such a negative attitude about doing so.

The South, for its part, should approach the issue of fertilizer, which the North demands so earnestly, from a humanitarian perspective and with brotherly Korean love, instead of trying to use it as leverage. It would appear that the North has no special reason to oppose Southern proposals such as family reunions, a ceremony marking new road links, and the test run of a new rail link. The people have special expectation for these talks. It is significant that talks are back on track after such a long absence, and because it is critical that it play the role of stepping stone towards a process of peaceful resolution for the North Korean nuclear issue. We again call on both sides to approach the talks with a heavy sense of responsibility and mission so that the talks produce some rare success and results.

The Hankyoreh, 19 May 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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