[EDITORIALS]Talks a Precious Opportunity

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[EDITORIALS]Talks a Precious Opportunity

President Kim Dae-jung and Lee Hoi-chang, the president of the Grand National Party, are supposed to have talks again Tuesday, nine months after their last discussion. In terms of both timing and cause, the get-together is appropriate as it is for discussions on bipartisan cooperation on the occasion of the American air strike on Afghanistan. Markets need to be calmed down since they seem to be at a loss due to the uncertainty over how long the bombing will go on. We have watched a decline in national politics - through the Lee Yong-ho scandal, the controversial tax audit of newspapers, the ideological conflicts of the sunshine policy toward North Korea, the tedious brinkmanship of political parties and the severe and endless economic difficulties. That is why people cannot help but expect and ask many things from the talks.

The talks should produce some practical agreements to reduce the shock to our economy from the war. The gradual measures for emergencies being prepared by the government would be less effective if the National Assembly were not back them up in a timely manner. Depending on how the war goes, the ruling and opposition parties should put their efforts together to implement the prepared measures for a supplementary budget, consumer price guidelines and energy needs.

The talks should also be an occasion to correct some distorted opinions within a quarter of our society, where narrow-mindedness or confusion in judging values exists. That segment puts more emphasis on anti-Americanism by saying that the tragedy of more than 6,000 deaths was the inevitable consequence of arrogance by the United States. In that sense, fortunately, the two leaders' position on terror is very much clear. President Kim said, "Terror, a common enemy to humankind, cannot be justified for whatever cause." Mr. Lee also said, "I support a war to root out terror."

There are some more issues that need to be addressed by the talks. Public opinion in South Korea is filled with wrath and frustration, as was confirmed over the Chuseok holidays. People's complaints about the suspicions of the prosecution's corruption, and illegal money coming out of the connections between organized crime and political heavyweights, have reached the boiling point. The same amount of political distrust exists because the ruling and opposition parties are only fighting for political initiatives and ignoring the current economic hardships.

The two leaders should come up with plausible measures to appease the people, considering all the situations mentioned above. Although the two men said publicly that the talks would focus only on economic issues, the economy will depend on how the Lee Yong-ho scandal is to be disposed. Consequently, it would be very difficult to soothe the people without the strong will of the president to clear up all the suspicions that political heavyweights of the ruling camp were involved in that scandal.

In addition, President Kim should disclose his improved stance and vision on support for the North, the return visit to Seoul by Kim Jong-il, the chairman of the North Korean Defense Commission, and the tax audit of newspapers, which have divided public opinion. There is no way to circumvent those issues.

Mr. Lee, as head of the party with the majority in the National Assembly, is responsible for taking care of national politics in a crisis.

It is the two leaders' obligation to gain meaningful results to meet the people's expectations, and not to waste such a precious opportunity.
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