Updated : Jun.24.2005 07:02 KST

[Editorial] Intra-Korean Relations and the Nuclear Issue

The intra-Korean ministerial talks that began with high expectations have come to an end. They were more substantial and the mood was more harmonious than previous meetings. The pace of reconciliation, exchange, and cooperation needs to be increased in all areas based on that.

The greater significance of the talks is that it decided the framework and agenda for other intra-Korean talks such as on military, economic, social, and cultural subjects. To begin with, there will be talks between the military generals of both sides next month. As for economics there will soon be a meeting of the committee on economic cooperation, and the Red Cross organizations of North and South will soon meet to discuss the issue of separated families, Southerners kidnapped and taken Northward, and Republic of Korea soldiers who were not returned after the war. There will be a large-scale family reunion event before Liberation Day, and there will be work on having video reunions. There will also be meetings on social and cultural cooperation such as joint research into the Korean language, exchange among members of the media, and joint projects relating to cultural assets. Of particular note is that there will be more exchange and cooperation in agriculture and fishing, which along with fertilizer and food aid will be of substantial assistance to the North. We hope to see progress in establishing a structure of peace by adding talks between defense ministers. Preparing for a second intra-Korean summit will also be important.

Progress in relations will also be a big help in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. The North stopped at merely expressing its position that the Korean peninsula should be nuclear free, so one hopes to see more concrete progress on a "strategic decision" before the next major talks. It is worth noticing that the US is taking a more appeasing attitude, with state secretary Condoleezza Rice promising to refrain from statements that might anger the North and with assistant secretary Christopher Hill saying that he would like to visit Pyongyang. The North must not miss the opportunity.

Progress in intra-Korean relations and the work to resolve the nuclear issue are like two sides of the same coin and inevitably must move together. North and South need to pool their strength together with the attitude that together they can resolve all the issues faced by the peninsula.

The Hankyoreh, 24 June 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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