Updated : Jul.05.2005 06:59 KST

[Editorial] NK & US: Stop Arguing and Return to Talks

The war of nerves between North Korea and the United States about restarting the six-party talks continues. We hope each side places the greatest priority on reopening the talks and takes a step back. Our government, for its part, must work harder in a leadership role so that the talks may open quickly and produce substantial results.

Attending an academic conference in New York that ended last weekend, senior North Korean diplomat Ri Gun said it is the US that must give the right reasons for returning to the six-party talks. He meant that the US must withdraw the statement about the North being an "outpost of tyranny." The US, on the other hand, is ignoring such North Korean demands while pressuring it to just return to the talks first. On the surface the situation looks like there is no room for compromise. However, both sides are refraining from saying anything that would upset the other side. Han Song Ryol, deputy North Korean ambassador to the UN, said last month that he thinks the talks can be held "maybe even in July if the US does not use the 'tyranny' term for at least a month." Things are moving in a direction where talks would be held this month.

The biggest obstacle to progress in the six-party talks has been the distrust that exists between the North and the US. The war of nerves over the "tyranny" comment can be seen in that context. The North takes that implies that the US will eventually attempt regime change in Pyongyang, and the US tries to use "tyranny" as a means of keeping the North in check, since it does not trust Pyongyang's actions. With that being the situation there will be problems even if the talks do open again. If the Bush Administration really wants to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue it first needs to alleviate Pyongyang's concerns about regime change. The North needs to return to the talks without setting conditions and by doing so earn trust from the international community. We hope each side stops the unnecessary war of nerves at the follow-up contact about to be made and that they engage in substantial discussion.

The Hankyoreh, 5 July 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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