[EDITORIALS]A united political response

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[EDITORIALS]A united political response

The issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons program is urgent, and our response must transcend partisan contention. Govern-ment and political leaders should come to-gether to assess the situation and declare South Korea's definitive position. This way, the government can alleviate public anxiety.

It is highly regrettable that a meeting on North Korea has yet to be arranged due to procedural matters. The Grand National Party's leader Lee Hoi-chang understandably asked to meet with the president as the leader of the majority party. His reasoning that it would be inappropriate to include other presidential candidates makes sense because the others have not finished positioning themselves for the presidential election that is less than two months away. It was also rash of the Blue House to suggest a six-party meeting of representatives of the six major political sides. Nevertheless, Mr. Lee should consider the seriousness of the situation and not be too particular about the formalities.

It is no time to insist on formalities. The existence of our people and our country is at stake. A nuclear weapons problem is not something that will end in a few days. We need time and a strategy to settle this problem peacefully. The public wants clear and definitive words from the president with all the presidential candidates by his side. A clear explanation is needed from President Kim Dae-jung if public expectations are to be met. If there have been any misjudgments or errors, the president should not try to hide or excuse them. He should apologize sincerely and show a firm determination to overcome them. Above all, he should explain his reasons for continuing to base North Korea policies on his "sunshine policy" while hushing up knowledge of the nuclear weapons program in North Korea that the government acquired in August. If his reasons for hiding the truth were purely out of concern for the sunshine policy, then this policy could now face a crisis. Politicians should know that putting the national interest and future first best serves their own interest and future.

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