[EDITORIALS]Summit follow-up tasksU.S. President George W. Bush's trip to the region ended Friday. The visits to Japan, Korea and China have been watched with keen interest because it was his first foreign trip since a new U.S. global strategy of diplomacy against terror was drawn up after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. Bush strengthened relations with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and reaffirmed the U.S.-Japanese strategic partnership. In Seoul, Mr. Bush said the United States has no intention of invading the North, easing anxiety about war on the peninsula. He also made clear that Washington wants to reopen dialogue with the North. During his stay in China, Mr. Bush agreed with Chinese President Jiang Zemin to cooperate in economic development, trade and the fight against terror. Mr. Bush reiterated his intention to retaliate against terror and won diplomatic support from all three countries - the trip can be evaluated as a success for now.
But Mr. Bush laid out no plans for helping with Japanese economic restructuring despite the international community's great interest in that issue. Although tension on the Korean Peninsula, which increased after Mr. Bush's remark about an "axis of evil," has been eased, his comments on the North Korean regime during his visit in Seoul raised more questions than they answered. Chinese President Jiang accepted Mr. Bush's invitation to visit the United States, but the two leaders failed to reach agreements on vital issues like China's arms exports.
The Bush administration sees the three countries as a battle front for its war against terror, some U.S. critics complained. Mr. Bush asked China to intervene with Pyeongyang to restart talks, but President Jiang urged Washington to approach the North directly. The United States and China re-established relations by focusing on common goals and ignoring their differences. Now we worry about the alignment changes that will follow the visits here and in Tokyo. Even in the United States, some critics doubt that the Bush administration wants to talk to Pyeongyang. Seoul must understand this reality calmly and work out differences with Washington for the interest of the nation, not the administration. The government should work out a mechanism to approach the North based on the alliance with the United States, and hand over the work to the next administration.
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