Updated : Jun.09.2005 02:27 KST

[Editorial] US-Korea Summit Should Produce Hope

Today president Roh Moo Hyun leaves for Washington D.C. for a summit with US president George W. Bush. The government says it has prepared for this coming summit more thoroughly than ever before. That means that it thinks the meeting that much more important, but it also means that the two countries have that much more between them in need of fine tuning. Meanwhile you can clearly see that high-ranking government officials are trying to keep from having the country have high expectations. It would seem that can be interpreted as meaning that there is not much on the table.

Of the key items on the agenda, the North Korean nuclear issue and the US-Korea alliance, it is the nuclear issue of which is of the most interest, because the North's attitude will very likely change according to what Roh and Bush have to say. The North's mission to the United Nations met the other day with US State Department officials and expressed Pyongyang's desire to return to the six-party talks but did not specify a date, evidence that it is very much conscious of the summit. That is natural for the North with its misgivings about US policy towards it. Therefore, even if the talks do not produce new incentives for the North there still must be a "strong message" that can encourage it to return to the six-party format. If work of that nature is lacking and all the summit meeting does is simply discuss measures for dealing with the North's nuclear program the results could make the situation even worse.

As for the US-Korea alliance, there have been various issues, but the government says those have been largely dealt with at the working-group level. It is fortunate that the alliance is a reality that neither side can deny. But avoiding even rational discussion because of the expectation that both sides speak with the same voice is not desirable. Particularly about the US military's "strategic flexibility," which could significantly alter the situation for the Korean peninsula and Northeast Asia, we need to explain our concerns in greater detail and get the US's understanding.

The US-Korea alliance is an alliance for peace. That goal has to be fulfilled in the course of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue as well. The most significant part of the upcoming US-Korea summit is that based on a healthy alliance it finds a way to achieve a breakthrough for resolving the nuclear issue peacefully and diplomatically. We hope to see this meeting that comes at a critical time produce results that mean hope for the Korean peninsula.

The Hankyoreh, 9 June 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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