North-South Summit Needs Allies' Support, not InterventionOther nations, including Korea's allies, are paying close attention to the historic inter-Korean summit to be held in June. The United States is paying especially close attention to develoments on the Korean peninsula. Meetings between high-ranking officials from Washington and Seoul, and particularly U.S. State Department Councilor Wendy Sherman's visit, highlight the extent of America's interest in the summit.
Sherman whole-heartedly expressed her approval of and interest in the June summit. However, Sherman's press conference request that the Seoul government try to understand Washington's position, might hint that Seoul and Washington are at odds over the summit meetings' agenda.
Seoul has maintained close cooperative ties with Washington when establishing and implementing North Korean policies. However, the two countries' priorities in relation to Pyongyang may be quite different.
The U.S.'s major concern is the suspension of the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the reclusive country. Thus, it is no surprise that Washington sees the upcoming summit as a chance to further promote the abandonment of nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs in the North. Washington is most likely hoping for a statement from Pyongyang signalling the end of its WMD programs during the talks.
WMD development projects in North Korea are a major threat to the world, not just the South. However, inter-Korean reconciliation and economic cooperation are much more important to the South than discussing WMDs.
At the summit, the Seoul government is planning to discuss the principles of the 1991 Inter-Korean Basic Agreement, including denuclearization and the prohibition of using armed force on the peninsula. These topics of discussion are believed to reflect Washington's influence on the Korean government.
The Seoul government should consider whether it has given its allies full information regarding the summit and its North Korean policies. At the same time, the allies should be careful not to make any moves that might damage these unprecedented summit talks.
by Ahn Jang-won