[EDITORIALS]Rethinking 'sunshine'

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[EDITORIALS]Rethinking 'sunshine'

In his first State of the Union address, U.S. President George W. Bush called North Korea "a regime armed with missiles and weapons of mass destruction," that, with Iran and Iraq, is "an axis of evil." The deep-rooted distrust of North Korea that showed in the speech is a warning that without extraordinary changes, talks between Washington and Pyeongyang will probably remain frozen for a long time.

We are concerned that Washington's view of the North, coming before the meeting between President Bush and President Kim, will have a bad effect on the Korean Peninsula in the current mood of expanding the war on terrorism. Maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula is a matter of life and death to us and is closely linked to regional and global stability. Under such circumstances, a dialogue among Seoul, Washington and Pyeongyang and healing our own domestic wounds over North Korea policy are important.

Seoul recently replaced its unification minister, whom Pyeongyang disliked. If the change of ministers was intended as a sop to the North, that is unacceptable. It will not lead to change in the North ?only to making the North more wayward and domineering.

As President Kim's term draws to a close, Seoul should pressure Pyeongyang to implement existing agreements rather than coming up with a new North Korea policy. Progress on existing agreements is the best way to build support here for an engagement policy.

The government was confident at the beginning of the Bush administration that gaps in understanding between the two allies could be overcome. Seoul was confident that it could win support from Washington on its engagement policy, but the summit meeting last March was actually the beginning of conflict and distrust between Seoul and Washington. Seoul should control its impatience for a breakthrough in its dealings with the North and look at the question logically and unemotionally. Such a review could go a long way to ending the discord between Seoul and Washington over Mr. Bush's hard-line stance and guarantee peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
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