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Vershbow: ‘Impatience building up’ on North

Mar 11,2008
United States Ambassador to South Korea Alexander Vershbow said Pyongyang must “adjust” to warmer relations between Seoul and Washington after President Lee Myung-bak took office.
Vershbow also said there is a “sense of impatience building up” among participants in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program over the long delay by Pyongyang to fully declare its nuclear programs.
“We are pleased with President Lee’s emphasis on strengthening U.S.-Korea relations, one of the central issues in his foreign policy doctrine,” Vershbow said in a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce in Seoul yesterday.
“The key aspect of it is the nation’s continued support for the global war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.”
Vershbow also reiterated Washington’s position that it would remove North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and lift trade restrictions only after the North fully completes the next step toward denuclearization.
North Korea, according to an agreement made last October, is committed to making a “complete and correct” declaration of all of its nuclear programs by Dec. 31, 2007, a deadline it missed.
“We will be prepared to do these two things only in parallel with North Korea’s obligations,” he said. “There is a sense of impatience building up, and we want to get on with it.”
Vershbow cautioned that people “should not have any illusion” that the recent historic concert of the New York Philharmonic orchestra in Pyongyang could jump-start the stalled talks on North Korea. His comment echoed sentiment on Capitol Hill that downplayed the political significance of the event.
“My view is that North Korea is calculating what should be its next move in the six-party talks,” he said. “It is clear that North Korea has to adjust to closer relations between Seoul and Washington.”
The ambassador also urged Seoul to fully open its market to U.S. beef imports in order to secure approval by the U.S. Congress for the pending U.S.-South Korea free trade agreement.
“It is essential if we are going to achieve the necessary voting majority in the Senate and the House,” he said. “After the [beef] issue is resolved, I think we can build new momentum for FTA ratification.”


By Jung Ha-won Staff Reporter [hawon@joongang.co.kr]


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