[EDITORIALS]Sorting Out the Moscow Summit

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[EDITORIALS]Sorting Out the Moscow Summit

The Moscow Declaration that summarizes the results of Saturday's summit meeting be-tween National Defense Commission Chairman Kim Jong-il of North Korea and President Vladimir Putin of Russia arouses both expectations and concerns. It is now highly necessary for the South Korean government to inquire what has actually been agreed between the two countries and to devise contingency plans.

First, it is encouraging that the North has taken a step toward the international community by normalizing its relations with Russia after estrangement since the collapse of the Soviet Union. That ties between the North and China will also warm up with the visit to Pyongyang by China's head of state in September will also positively affect the politics of the Korean Peninsula. Given that relations between South Korea and China and Russia have steadily become more amicable and cooperative, the normalization of ties between Pyongyang and Beijing and Moscow contributes to stability. The South Korean government should strengthen its diplomatic might to refresh these relations.

South Korea should take particularly sensitive interest in the demand for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the South, the linking of the Trans-Siberian railway with the Trans-Korean railway, and the undisclosed Russian provision of weapons to the North. Why the North reversed its earlier tolerance of U.S. Forces Korea as promised at the inter-Korean summit last year is unclear. Perhaps it wants to raise its leverage in negotiations with the United States, as some have contended, or to pressure the South, or both. At any rate, it is a problem for South Korea. If Russia, contrary to our hopes, pledged to provide the North with attack weapons of the latest technology, the problem gets more complicated. The government should precisely understand the North's intention and find the truth from Russia.

The linking of the railways also cannot be concluded with the bilateral declaration only. Trilateral agreement between the two Koreas and Russia must be a premise. Thus, resumption of dialogue between the two Koreas is more likely, but it is regrettable that the North's attitude is still vague. The South Korean government should make all efforts to induce China and Russia to play a constructive role toward the North.
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