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[EDITORIALS]Time for U.S., North to Talk

May 17,2001
The United States has taken a series of firm positions against North Korea since the inauguration of the new Bush administration and North Korea has given the United States tit for tat. Such tensions seem have resulted from both sides' tactics to gain an advantage before resumption of talks between the two countries. But if both sides are inclined to stand firm, it is as clear as day that the talks will not go smoothly.

North Korea warned Wednesday in a statement by the state-run Central News Agency, "The failure by the United States to live up to its obligation to the LWR project by the year 2003 would possibly drive us to respond to it with abandoning the ongoing nuclear freeze." North Korea made similar threats at the start of the Bush administration concerning missile tests.

The attitude of Washington is no softer than that of North Korea. The Bush administration has put pressure on North Korea by saying it would reexamine its policy toward the North. It has recently been reported that the Bush administration is considering the deployment of Aegis-class destroyers to the East Sea as an interim missile defense against North Korea. Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser, made Tuesday the provocative statement that the Bush administration will not reward North Korea's "delinquent behavior" as the Clinton administration had been prone to do.

The two countries have not shown only tough attitudes, though. North Korea showed a softer line when it said it would delay missile tests until 2003. Observers generally think, accordingly, that the North's recent hard-line attitude is tactic to brace itself for the upcoming resumption of dialogue with the United States. The United States also acted moderately when it said Sunday it will donate 100,000 tons of food through the United Nations World Food Program.

Accordingly, if the both sides negotiate seriously with a will to coexist, they will be able to reach an agreement on improvement of relations as well as settlement of the nuclear and missile disputes. Both sides will have a thorny path. We recommend that North Korea and the United States quit the fight to "one-up" each other but probe each other's intentions carefully and take measures, since we consider improvement of relations between the two sides a determinant of progress in inter-Korean relations and peace on the peninsula.



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