Issues Prior to Inter-Korean Meeting

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Issues Prior to Inter-Korean Meeting

The inter-Korean meetings that are to be held in the truce village of Panmunjum, ahead of the summit meeting in June, look hopeful. South Korea will likely bring up issues that were announced in President Kim Dae-jung's Berlin Declaration, including separated families and economic cooperation.

The two sides agreed to begin talks on April 27 and despite the positive atmosphere surrounding the proposed meetings, there are still many questions that need to be answered.

Though the north has been relatively low-key in its demands, it has mentioned some "basic problems" which have to be addressed before the summit meeting between the leaders of the two countries. North Korea will likely ask for the withdrawal of U.S. soldiers from the peninsula - a concern it has repeatedly voiced in the past. The north could use this issue to stall talks or ask for more financial aid from South Korea.

The written agreement signed by the two countries is being interpreted in different ways. The South Koreans should clarify the wording of the document before moving ahead with the talks.

The Stalinist state is calling this an "historical meeting," causing many in the south to be overly optimistic. However, the public should know that the issues dividing this peninsula will not be resolved at one meeting. The summit meeting is merely the beginning and this is why it is so important.

President Kim has said in his address to the nation that the meeting must be held with a principle of compromise. In the past, the government has failed when it has tried to do too much. North Korea also needs to change their stance and begin talking about issues that will improve living conditions in the isolationist state.

by Choi Ji-young

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