Updated : Jun.20.2005 03:00 KST

[Editorial] Six-Party Talks Depend on United States

Since the meeting between Kim Jong Il and Chung Dong Young, the government has been working in earnest to get the six-party process restarted. The foreign ministry has dispatched people to the US and Russia, and starting Tuesday prime minister Lee Hae Chan and deputy defense minister Song Min Soon will be meeting with members of China's leadership. On Monday there is a summit between president Roh Moo Hyun and Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. On Tuesday the world will be watching what happens in Seoul as there will be ministerial talks. One hopes to see more concrete discussion about intra-Korean relations and also about the nuclear issue.

Many experts are saying that the North has decided it is coming back to the six-party talks but is hesitating because it has not received a sure sign from the US. The Korean government seems to share that analysis. When the North's National Defence Commission chairman Kim Jong Il said his condition for returning to the talks was recognition and respect from the US, that meant he wants the US to respect the North's system and recognize it as a partner in the negotiations. That is not something inconsistent with the principle of resolving the nuclear issue diplomatically and peacefully, something agreed on by all the parties to the six-party talks.

The US's attitude is of concern. It is acting reserved, saying "there is no date until there's a date." Some hard-liners disregard chairman Kim's statements, saying they are "more rhetoric" and "delay tactics." The North and the US of course need to meet firsthand to see what each others' intentions are, but it is inevitably going to be an obstacle to restarting the talks if the suspicions come first. If US president George W. Bush truly wants a diplomatic and peaceful resolution, he will have to get his internal house in order and bring clarity to the differing views there.

Negotiations are give and take. The North has taken a step closer, and the US must respond accordingly. The question of whether the six-party talks reopen and provide for a resolution of the nuclear issue or not depends on the attitude of the US.

The Hankyoreh, 20 June 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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