[EDITORIALS]Your move, Pyeongyang

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[EDITORIALS]Your move, Pyeongyang

North Korea has finally done something to explore the possibility of dialogue with Washington, despite its harsh criticism of U.S. President George W. Bush's warnings about its policies. "Only nice words will be answered by nice words," and "labeling the North an 'axis of evil' is little short of declaring war," the North had insisted, but Pak Gil-yon, North Korea's UN ambassador, said on Thursday that North Korea is ready to talk with Washington. When to start the talks will be their decision, Mr. Pak said. We believe his remark was a careful signal sent to encourage the resumption of talks with the United States; we once more urge the North to come back to the negotiating table.

As U.S. State Secretary Colin Powell said, the ball is in North Korea's court. Washington clarified its opposition to North Korea's conventional weapons, missiles and biological and chemical weapons. World opinion agrees that no more weapons of mass destruction should be produced or exported. Now it is Pyeongyang's turn to respond.

Negotiations on North Korea's missile program during the Clinton administration did make some progress. There were hints of monetary compensation and U.S. launches of North Korean satellites if Pyeongyang cooperated. Now, the U.S. administration has changed and issues involving weapons of mass destruction have been thrust to the fore since the events of Sept. 11.

Monetary compensation is no longer on the table in this changed era ?the world says, "No more." Mr. Bush threatened a war, and Pyeongyang lost a negotiating card.

North Korea must face the fact that it is not only the United States but the whole world that is anxious about its terrible weapons. Pyeongyang should realize that weapons of mass destruction have no power to protect its regime; it should also understand that opening its society, implementing inter-Korean agreements and building trust from the international community are the way to protect its regime. That is what the world and Washington are paying attention to.

Seoul, which long stressed reconciliation and cooperation, is also greatly interested in the North's position on weapons of mass destruction. Resuming a dialogue is not up to the United States - it is up to the North.

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