Updated : May.24.2005 06:51 KST

[Editorial] NK Must Quickly Make the Right Decision


North Korea's foreign ministry has confirmed that it had had contact with the United States on May 13 in New York, and says that it will convey its position officially "when the time comes." The comment is one that can be interpreted as meaning a decision from North Korea about whether or not to return to the six-party talks is approaching. We call on the North to quickly make the right decision so that there might be progress in resolving the nuclear issue, which would be in tune with the progress in intra-Korean relations.

Looking at the recent situation it becomes possible to surmise that the North is taking steps towards returning to the six-party talks. That is supported by how the US, as demanded by the North on May 8, said during the meeting in New York that the North is a sovereign nation and that the US would be willing to engage in bilateral dialogue within the framework of the six-party talks, and now the North's foreign ministry has formally responded. The North proposed vice ministerial talks a few hours after the meeting in New York and those do not look unrelated. It likely felt the need to advance intra-Korean relations ahead of returning to the six-party talks.

If by chance the North is again trying to stall for time it has misjudged the situation. Just as the North believes, the hard-liners within the Bush Administration do not want negotiations. Nevertheless, the Bush Administration's basic position is that the issue should be resolved diplomatically and peacefully through the six-party talks, and is more appeasing than it used to be regarding guarantees regarding the North's security and economic assistance. The US is not the only one: North Korea needs to realize that as time goes by China, the host country of talks, could change to a hard-line position, too.

There continues to be much distrust between the North and the US, and so one can understand how the North would want to establish the right reasons and conditions for returning to the six-party talks. But if that leads it to try to win many guarantees before the talks even reopen it could lose even what has already been achieved. What is clear is that the more rapidly it makes the right decision, the more room there will be for negotiation.

The Hankyoreh, 24 May 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]



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