[EDITORIALS]New U.S.-North talks

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[EDITORIALS]New U.S.-North talks

The United States and North Korea have agreed to resume official talks. They have been suspended since U.S. President George W. Bush took office in January 2001, and will probably help stabilize the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. In order for the talks to succeed in doing so, the two countries should make persistent and sincere efforts to understand each other's positions and reach a compromise.

U.S.-North Korean relations got off to an unfriendly and symmetrical start after the inauguration of U.S. President Bush. He distrusts the leaders of North Korea and demands that the communist state stop developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles and reduce its conventional military forces. The North adamantly resists such demands, so Pyeongyang-Washington negotiations face an uncertain future. But the fact that the two sides have agreed to hold talks is meaningful in itself.

We are paying attention to the North's recent show of willingness to open its door. It took a step toward thawing inter-Korean relations by agreeing to a visit to Pyeongyang by President Kim Dae-jung's special envoy, Lim Dong-won. The North has also improved its relationship with Japan by holding talks with Japan's Red Cross. We believe that North Korea's request for a visit to Pyeongyang by the U.S. State Department's special envoy, Jack Pritchard, was sent because of the same kind of motive. The North might come to the negotiating table at least with the flexibility it showed during negotiations with the South and Japan. Only by doing so can the Stalinist state expect to create an environment in which it can have the stability it wants so desperately and receive international support for rebuilding its economy.

The United States should not try to unilaterally drive the North into a corner, as it did Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. In international relations, sticks may sometimes prove useful, but may be counterproductive, depending on the country. The United States should set a good atmosphere for its talks with the North to give the communist country no choice but to find a compromise.

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