중앙데일리

Kim Did Not Seek EU Visit, Aide Says

Mar 27,2001

South Korea dismissed Tuesday a recent U.S. report that said President Kim Dae-jung had asked the European Union to step in to help keep up momentum on the peace process on the Korean Peninsula after disappointing talks with the Bush administration early this month.

Explaining that Mr. Kim had not even met senior EU officials after the Seoul-Washington summit March 7, the Foreign Ministry said the Washington Post's article on Sunday was incorrect.

"We welcome the EU's independent decision to contribute to the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula," said Lee Jong-kook, an official at the ministry's West Europe division. "What is important, however, is what Washington's policy toward the North is going to be."

The Foreign Ministry in Seoul said it was "very appreciative of the EU's efforts to support peace and stability on the Korean peninsula." It hoped the planned visit of a delegation led by Goran Persson, the Swedish prime minister, would "help improve the inter-Korean reconciliation and co-operation process".

The U.S. daily's report came after the EU's announcement on Sunday that it would send mediators to North and South Korea to help invigorate the peace process following the Bush administration's decision to suspend talks with Pyongyang. Quoting unidentified senior EU officials, the daily said, "[President Kim] said he feared the hesitation in the U.S. capital might lead to the demise of his sunshine policy of peaceful reconciliation with the North."

Several diplomatic and academic sources in Seoul doubted that South Korea, whose biggest ally is the United States, would have said anything so certain to strain Seoul-Washington relations.

Kim Sung-han, a professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security said, "Such efforts by the EU can help to a certain extent in diluting the Bush administration's hard-line policy, but is unlikely to change the significant policies like the national missile defense system it is pursuing."

by Lee Soo-jeong




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